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No. 206 



This new selection, edited with an 
Introduction by Paul M. Angle, Direc- 
tor of Publications at the Chicago 
Historical Society, ranges over the 
whole of Lincoln's public career, 
beginning with an electioneering address 
in the local politics of Springfield, 
Illinois, to the last speech the great 
President made, less than a week before 
his assassination. 

* Lincoln,' said the historian, Lord 
Bryce, 'is always clear. Simplicity, 
directness, and breadth are the notes of 
his thought. Aptness, clearness, and 
again simplicity, are the notes of his 
diction. The American speakers of 
his generation, like most of those of the 
preceding generation, but unlike those 
of that earlier generation to which 
Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, 
Marshall, and Madison belonged, were 
generally infected by a floridity which 
made them a byword in Europe. Even 
men of brilliant talent, such as Edward 
Everett, were by no means free from 
this straining after effect by highly 
coloured phrases and theatrical effects. 
In the forties and fifties florid rhetoric 
was rampant, especially in the west and 
south, where taste was less polished 
than in the older States. That Lincoln 
escaped it is a striking mark of his 
independence as well as of his greatness. 
There is no superfluous ornament in 

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Judge carl e. wahlstrom 






Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide, 
In thy most need to go by thy side 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, bora 12th February 
1809, near Hodgen's Mills (now Hodgenville), 
Kentucky. Elected to the Illinois House of 
Representatives in 1834 and granted a licence 
to practise law in 1837. Became a member of the 
U.S. House of Representatives in 1847. In 
1860 he was elected sixteenth President of the 
United States. The Civil War began 12th 
April 1861. On 14th April 1865 Lincoln was 
assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, and died the 
following morning. 






Introduction and editing, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, December 1957 

Aldine House • Bedford Street • London 

Made in Great Britain 


The Aldine Press • Letchworth • Herts 

First published in this edition 1907 

Revised edition 1957 



to if 




On the 12th February 1809 Abraham Lincoln was born in a 
log cabin in a sparsely settled region of Kentucky. Later in 
that same year William E. Gladstone was born in a comfortable 
home in the thriving city of Liverpool. 

At that time no one, either in the United States or in England, 
would have been rash enough to predict that fifty-two years later 
both Lincoln and Gladstone would be leaders of their respective 
people, the one as a newly elected President, the other as the 
dominant figure in the English cabinet. 

Yet in the case of Gladstone the prediction would not have 
been a wild one. His father was a man of large fortune who sat 
in Parliament for many years. The son would have the best 
school and university education which family position and wealth 
could procure. He would not need to earn a living, and could 
devote all his time and energy to public life. 

The parents of Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, were 
poor pioneers, though no poorer than most of their neighbours. 
The father could barely read and write, the mother made her 
mark. The boy would grow to maturity on backwoods farms 
and would learn no more in the makeshift schools that the region 
offered than to read, write, and do simple arithmetic. After 
striking out on his own he would earn his living as a clerk in a 
frontier store, as village postmaster, and as a surveyor of the 
virgin lands that new settlers were then taking up. 

Even after Lincoln was well advanced in life he gave no sign 
of future greatness. He served four terms in the state legislature, 
but hundreds of other men were also members of that body. 
During his one term in Congress he did not distinguish himself, 
and had he run again he could not have been re-elected. In the 
practice of the law — for which he had trained himself— he stood 
well, but no one would have included him among the eminent 
American lawyers of his time. 

At forty-five he had been inactive in politics for several years. 
But in the year in which he attained that age — 1854 — the Kansas- 
Nebraska Act was passed. The effect of the bill was to open 



federal territories, not yet organized as states, to slavery. Lin- 
coln, aroused as never before, re-entered politics and did all that 
was within his power to repeal the new legislation. Out of the 
opposition of thousands like him the Republican Party came 
into existence. Within two years he was its acknowledged 
leader in Illinois. 

In 1858 Stephen A. Douglas, Senator from Illinois, stood for 
re-election. Lincoln was the unanimous choice of his party to 
oppose the man who, as sponsor of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, 
personified the policy it represented. In the ensuing campaign 
Lincoln, though unsuccessful, won a nation-wide hearing and 
earned a national reputation. Two years later the Republican 
National Convention chose him as its presidential nominee. 
With the Democrats divided, he won the election. 

Lincoln took office on 4th March 1861, an untried man. He 
had had legislative experience; he possessed a logical mind and 
the ability to reduce complex issues to simple terms; yet there 
had been nothing in his life to prepare him for the ordeal he 
faced. He rose to the challenge magnificently, and guided the 
nation through four years of war precipitated by the South's 
determined attempt to secede from the Union. 

And at the same time that he was burdened almost beyond 
endurance by cares that furrowed his face and wore down his 
rail-splitter's iron physique, he wrote some of the most sublime 
prose to be found in the English language. The totality of 
Lincoln's truly great writing is not large. It would include, 
when measured by the severest standards, perhaps only the 
Gettysburg Address in its entirety, a half-dozen letters, and 
passages in other speeches, notably the first and second inaugural 
addresses. But of what other writers, devoting their lives to the 
creation of pure literature, can much more be said? And who, 
at his best, has surpassed the finest work of this man who never 
completely mastered the niceties of composition, who read almost 

Even below the summit of achievement, Lincoln's writing has 
compelling interest. Except for a short-lived venture into verse 
and the story of a bizarre incident from his early years at the 
Bar, he wrote only for utilitarian purposes. Most of his letters 
were those of a practising lawyer, a politician, a high government 
official. Disregarding two or three lectures, he made speeches 


in the same capacities. Although there were certainly times 
when he consciously strove for effect, on the whole he sought 
merely to make himself understood, and, when the situation 
warranted, to convince. Yet this workaday prose exhibits a 
style simple, direct, terse, which can also be imaginative and 
metaphorical. If two sentences would cover Lincoln's purpose 
he wrote two sentences, but he did not subscribe to the fallacy 
that any short letter is better than a long one. If he needed four 
pages to develop an argument he took four pages, just as he did 
not hesitate to make a speech of three hours' duration. Few 
writers have ever advanced ideas with more severe logic. 
(Whether he derived the logical habit of thought from his study 
of Euclid, or whether an innately logical mind aroused his 
interest in Euclid, is an open question.) And always, in his 
prose, there is clarity — clarity in such high degree that only in the 
rarest instances does one have to read a sentence a second time 
in order to comprehend its exact meaning. 

Still, if the criterion were solely literary, public interest would 
hardly support even a limited compilation of Lincoln's writings. 
But the criterion can never be solely literary. What Lincoln 
wrote is indispensable to an understanding of the man. The 
strictly autobiographical documents are few, brief, and incom- 
plete, but they supply facts that could have been established only 
with great difficulty, if at all, from other sources. Much more 
important is the light which Lincoln's letters and speeches shed 
upon his character, personality, and the quality of his mind. 
Often a casual letter discloses a trait more convincingly than the 
commentary of long-time associates and friends. He was 
honest, his contemporaries have said, but their testimony has 
had to do with the kind of honesty that leads a store-keeper to 
return an overcharge, that impels a lawyer to take scrupulous 
care of his clients' money. What of that greater, rarer quality 
that induces a politician to state his convictions with complete 
candour, even though he courts defeat by doing so? No one 
who follows Lincoln's course on the Mexican war, or reads his 
speeches in the debates with Douglas even as they are abridged 
in this volume, can doubt that here was a man who valued 
integrity above success. What of those human qualities so 
universally admired, so uncommonly practised — patience, 
humility, sympathy for the unfortunate and sorrow-stricken, 


gentleness of spirit? That these were attributes of Lincoln is 
abundantly proved by letters to hot-tempered friends, to un- 
generous critics, to young men discouraged by initial failures, to 
parents and relatives of soldiers killed in battle. What of his 
conception of moral values ? His whole discussion of the slavery 
question reveals one for whom no sophistry could cloud the 
distinction between right and wrong; who also, knowing that 
distinction, would stand unwaveringly on what he considered 
right. Yet his mind was such that while he could know the right 
as it concerned relations between men, he could only grope for 
it as it existed between men and God. But here too his writings 
show him to have been either a deeply religious man or — un- 
thinkably — an unconscionable hypocrite. 

These qualities and characteristics of Abraham Lincoln are 
aspects of the image which millions of his countrymen have 
shared ever since his death. Other traits, also exemplified in his 
writings, the general public has chosen either to ignore or to 
minimize. He had ambition. For more than thirty years he 
sought election to office without attempting to dissemble his 
desires, yet many continue to picture him as one who, but for 
the urging of his friends, would have effaced himself in the 
practice of the law. He was patient with imposition, but he was 
not supine. In any personal relationship there came a point on 
which he would not yield — a point which patrons of his post 
office, political opponents, generals, and finally the people of 
the South, discovered to their consternation. Occasionally he 
became testy, and sometimes at small irritations ; less frequently 
he blazed with anger. 

This is only to say that Lincoln was human, and therefore 
within the comprehension of ordinary mortals. And it is impor- 
tant that he be understood. He had greatness, and to know 
greatness is one of life's highest privileges. Moreover, without 
an understanding of Lincoln one can have no more than an 
imperfect grasp of the course of the United States for the past 
century, and cannot fully know the nation as it is to-day. As 
the Civil War recedes in time, it assumes ever larger importance 
as the paramount event in the last one hundred years of American 
life. For the United States, the war accelerated industrialism 
in the east and north and retarded it in the south, gave a tre- 
mendous impetus to centralization in government, produced 


cleavages between sections that have influenced every national 
election since 1865, and created a racial problem which the 
passage of time gives little promise of solving. For the world, 
it proved that democracy, as a form of government, had come 
to stay. 

The focal figure of the Civil War was Abraham Lincoln. In 
the span of his adult life the forces that would lead to conflict 
gathered and reached the breaking point. William Lloyd 
Garrison brought out the first number of the Liberator advocating 
the abolition of slavery less than a year after Lincoln came of age. 
In six years the pro-slavery reaction would be so violent that 
Lincoln had to face it in the Illinois legislature. After the 
passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act he would think out the 
issues, debate them, clarify them for millions. In his speeches 
up to and including the first Inaugural Address the points of 
difference over which the American people would shed blood 
are expounded with superlative clarity. 

Once war came, it was Lincoln who defined both its purpose 
and significance so persuasively as to hold the adherence of the 
vast majority of the American people. Not only that: it was 
Lincoln who made the critical decisions — against premature 
emancipation, for emancipation when the time was ripe, in 
favour of relieving one commander and selecting another, for 
certain strategical concepts in preference to others, for a kind of 
reconstruction that would reunite the nation in spirit as well as 
actuality. What he did, and why he did what he did, can be 
fully understood only from the record which he himself created. 

A final point needs to be made. The record that Lincoln 
created — his letters, his speeches, his memoranda, his homilies — 
was his alone. Four documents in this volume — the letters to 
Queen Victoria and the King of Siam, the proclamations calling 
out the militia and designating a day of thanksgiving — were 
probably prepared in the State Department. All others sprang 
directly from Lincoln's own mind. 

Paul M. Angle. 





The basic text of the speeches and writings in this volume is that 
of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. 
Basler, with Marion Dolores Pratt and Lloyd A. Dunlap assistant 
editors, 9 volumes, the Rutgers University Press, New Bruns- 
wick, New Jersey, 1953-5. The editor, however, has made 
certain minor alterations for the benefit of the general reader. 
Lincoln, for example, was excessively fond of the comma as a 
punctuation mark; he occasionally lapsed in spelling; he followed 
no consistent rule of capitalization. In the text presented here 
punctuation marks which interfered with ready comprehension 
have been changed or eliminated; misspellings have been cor- 
rected; capitalization has been made uniform. In no instance, 
however, has either the sense or flavour of Lincoln's writing been 
altered by these emendations. Omissions are indicated by 

In printing Lincoln's letters, the place and date have been 
transferred from the documents themselves to the editor's line 
or two of introduction. The salutations are given as Lincoln 
wrote them ; so are the closes, but without his signature. 

P. M. A. 


The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Roy P. Basler, editor, Marion 
Dolores Pratt and Lloyd A. Dunlap, assistant editors (New Brunswick, 
Rutgers University Press, 1953-5, 9 vols.), has superseded all earlier 
comprehensive collections of Lincoln's writings and speeches. This is the 
only fully annotated edition of Lincoln's works and the only general 
collection for which complete textual accuracy can be claimed. 

Two recent biographies stand out above all others : Benjamin P. Thomas, 
Abraham Lincoln, A Biography (New York, Knopf, 1952), and Carl Sand- 
burg, Abraham Lincoln; The Prairie Years and the War Years (New York, 
Harcourt, Brace, 1954). Paul M. Angle, The Lincoln Reader (New Bruns- 
wick, Rutgers University Press, 1947), is an integrated narrative made up 
of the writings of sixty-five authors. 

Among older books, two deserve special mention : William H. Herndon, 
Abraham Lincoln, The True Story of a Great Life (Chicago, Belford, Clarke, 
1889, 3 vols.), and John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Abraham Lincoln; A 
History (New York, Century Co., 1 890, 10 vols.). The former, by Lincoln's 


long-time law partner, remains a fundamental source in spite of the author's 
prejudices and wrong-headed judgments. The best editions currently 
available are the two-volume edition of Appleton-Century-Crofts (New 
York), which has an excellent chapter, by Horace White, on the Lincoln- 
Douglas debates, and the one-volume edition of the World Publishing 
Company (Cleveland, Ohio), with a critical introduction by Paul M, Angle. 
The Nicolay and Hay book, written by Lincoln's two presidential secre- 
taries, is a truly monumental work which is both a biography of Lincoln 
and a history of the Civil War. In spite of the arch-republicanism of its 
authors the book has enduring value. 

The life of Lincoln cannot be understood without some knowledge of 
the Civil War. The literature of that subject is a library in itself, but three 
recent books will serve the purpose of most readers. Bruce Catton, This 
Hallowed Ground, The Story of the Union Side of the Civil War (Garden 
City, Doubleday, 1956), does not ignore the Confederacy in spite of the 
subtitle, and is characterized by rare literary distinction. Henry Steele 
Commager, The Blue and the Gray (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1950, 2 
vols.), is a collection of personal narratives representing both sides and all 
ranks. A similar collection is to be found in the first volume of Otto 
Eisenschiml, Ralph Newman, and E. B. Long, The Civil War (New York, 
Grosset & Dunlap, 1956, 2 vols.); the second volume contains a useful 
pictorial record, chronology, biographical encyclopaedia, and bibliography. 


Introduction by Paul M. Angle 


Editor's Note .... 


Bibliography .... 


Speeches and Letters . 


Chronology of Lincoln's Life 

. 285 


. 291 






Political announcement : communication to the * Sangamo Journal' 
of Springfield, Illinois. 

9th March 1832. 

Fellow-Citizens: Having become a candidate for the honour- 
able office of one of your representatives in the next General 
Assembly of this state, in accordance with an established custom, 
and the principles of true republicanism, it becomes my duty to 
make known to you — the people whom I propose to represent 
— my sentiments with regard to local affairs. . . . 

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any 
plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the 
most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. 
That every man may receive at least a moderate education, and 
thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other 
countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free 
institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even 
on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and 
satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the scriptures 
and other works, both of a religious and moral nature, for 
themselves. For my part, I desire to see the time when educa- 
tion, and by its means morality, sobriety, enterprise, and industry, 
shall become much more general than at present, and should be 
gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the 
advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to 
accelerate the happy period. 

With regard to existing laws, some alterations are thought to 
be necessary. Many respectable men have suggested that our 
estray laws — the law respecting the issuing of executions, the 
road law, and some others — are deficient in their present form, 
and require alterations. But considering the great probability 
that the framers of those laws were wiser than myself, I should 



prefer not meddling with them, unless they were first attacked 
by others, in which case I should feel it both a privilege and a 
duty to take that stand, which in my view might tend most to 
the advancement of justice. 

But, fellow-citizens, I shall conclude. Considering the great 
degree of modesty which should always attend youth, it is 
probable I have already been more presuming than becomes me. 
However, upon the subjects of which I have treated, I have 
spoken as I thought. I may be wrong in regard to any or all 
of them; but holding it a sound maxim, that it is better to be 
only sometimes right, than at all times wrong, so soon as I 
discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to 
renounce them. 

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it 
be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as 
that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering 
myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in 
gratifying this ambition is yet to be developed. I am young 
and unknown to many of you. I was born and have ever 
remained in the most humble walks of life. I have no wealthy 
or popular relations to recommend me. My case is thrown 
exclusively upon the independent voters of this county, and if 
elected they will have conferred a favour upon me for which I 
shall be unremitting in my labours to compensate. But if the 
good people in their wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the back- 
ground, I have been too familiar with disappointments to be very 
much chagrined. 1 Your friend and fellow-citizen 

Letter from the postmaster of New Salem, Illinois, to a patron. 

1st July 1834. 

Mr Spears : At your request I send you a receipt for the postage 
on your paper. I am somewhat surprised at your request. I 
will, however, comply with it. The law requires newspaper 
postage to be paid in advance and now that I have waited a full 
year you choose to wound my feelings by insinuating that unless 

1 Lincoln was not elected, but a promising political career was indicated 
by the fact that he received 277 of the 300 votes cast in the New Salem 
precinct, where he lived. 


you get a receipt I will probably make you pay it again. 

Received of George Spears in full for postage on the Sangamo 
Journal up to the first of July, 1834. 

A. Lincoln, P.M. 

Statement of political principles : communicated to the 'Sangamo 


New Salem, 13th June 1836. 
To the Editor of the Journal: 

In your paper of last Saturday I see a communication over the 
signature of 'Many Voters,' in which the candidates who are 
announced in the Journal are called upon to 'show their hands.' 
Agreed. Here's mine! 

I go for all sharing the privileges of the government who assist 
in bearing its burdens. Consequently I go for admitting all 
whites to the right of suffrage who pay taxes or bear arms (by 
no means excluding females). 

If elected, I shall consider the whole people of Sangamon my 
constituents, as well those that oppose as those that support me. 

While acting as their representative I shall be governed by 
their will, on all subjects upon which I have the means of knowing 
what their will is ; and upon all others, I shall do what my own 
judgment teaches me will best advance their interests. Whether 
elected or not, I go for distributing the proceeds of the sales of 
the public lands to the several states, to enable our state, in 
common with others, to dig canals and construct railroads, 
without borrowing money and paying interest on it. 

If alive on the first Monday in November, I shall vote for 
Hugh L. White x for President. Very respectfully 

Letter to Robert Allen, a political opponent. 

New Salem, 21st June 1836. 

Dear Col.: I am told that during my absence last week, you 
passed through this place and stated publicly that you were in 

1 United States Senator from Tennessee. 


possession of a fact or facts, which, if known to the public, 
would entirely destroy the prospects of N. W. Edwards x and 
myself at the ensuing election ; but that, through favour to us, 
you should forbear to divulge them. 

No one has needed favours more than I, and generally, few 
have been less unwilling to accept them; but in this case, favour 
to me would be injustice to the public, and therefrore I must beg 
your pardon for declining it. That I once had the confidence of 
the people of Sangamon is sufficiently evident, and if I have since 
done anything, either by design or misadventure, which if known 
would subject me to a forfeiture of that confidence, he that 
knows of that thing and conceals it is a traitor to his country's 

I find myself wholly unable to form any conjecture of what fact 
or facts, real or supposed, you spoke; but my opinion of your 
veracity will not permit me for a moment to doubt that you at 
least believed what you said. 

I am flattered with the personal regard you manifested for me, 
but I do hope that on more mature reflection you will view the 
public interest as a paramount consideration, and therefore 
determine to let the worst come. 

I here assure you that the candid statement of facts on your 
part, however low it may sink me, shall never break the tie of 
personal friendship between us. 

I wish an answer to this, and you are at liberty to publish both 
if you choose. Very respectfully 

Letter to Mary S. Owens, to whom Lincoln had proposed marriage. 

Springfield, 7th May 1837. 

Friend Mary : I have commenced two letters to send you before 
this, both of which displeased me before I got half done, and so 
I tore them up. The first I thought wasn't serious enough, and 
the second was on the other extreme. I shall send this, turn 
out as it may. 

This thing of living in Springfield 2 is rather a dull business 

1 Like Lincoln, a Whig candidate for the legislature. 

2 Lincoln had moved to Springfield from New Salem on 15th April, and 
had started to practise law with John T. Stuart, an established lawyer. 


after all, at least it is so to me. I am quite as lonesome here as 
I ever was anywhere in my life. I have been spoken to by but 
one woman since I've been here, and should not have been by 
her, if she could have avoided it. I 've never been to church yet, 
nor probably shall not be soon. I stay away because I am 
conscious I should not know how to behave myself. 

I am often thinking about what we said of your coming to live 
at Springfield. I am afraid you would not be satisfied. There 
is a great deal of flourishing about in carriages here, which it 
would be your doom to see without sharing in it. You would 
have to be poor without the means of hiding your poverty. 
Do you believe you could bear that patiently ? Whatever woman 
may cast her lot with mine, should any ever do so, it is my 
intention to do all in my power to make her happy and contented; 
and there is nothing I can imagine that would make me more 
unhappy than to fail in the effort. I know I should be much 
happier with you than the way I am, provided I saw no signs of 
discontent in you. What you have said to me may have been in 
jest, or I may have misunderstood it. If so, then let it be for- 
gotten; if otherwise, I much wish you would think seriously 
before you decide. For my part I have already decided. What 
I have said I will most positively abide by, provided you wish it. 
My opinion is that you had better not do it. You have not been 
accustomed to hardship, and it may be more severe than you 
now imagine. I know you are capable of thinking correctly on 
any subject; and if you deliberate maturely upon this, before you 
decide, then I am willing to abide your decision. 

You must write me a good long letter after you get this. You 
have nothing else to do, and though it might not seem interesting 
to you, after you had written it, it would be a good deal of 
company to me in this 'busy wilderness.' Tell your sister I 
don't want to hear any more about selling out and moving. 
That gives me the hypo whenever I think of it. Yours, etc. 

To Mary S. Owens: a second letter on marriage. 

Springfield, 16th August 1837. 

Friend Mary : You will, no doubt, think it rather strange that 
I should write you a letter on the same day on which we parted ; 

6 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

and I can only account for it by supposing that seeing you lately 
makes me think of you more than usual, while at our late meeting 
we had but few expressions of thoughts. You must know that 
I cannot see you or think of you, with entire indifference; and 
yet it may be that you are mistaken in regard to what my real 
feelings towards you are. If I knew you were not, I should not 
trouble you with this letter. Perhaps any other man would 
know enough without further information ; but I consider it my 
peculiar right to plead ignorance, and your bounden duty to 
allow the plea. I want in all cases to do right, and most particu- 
larly so in all cases with women. I want at this particular time, 
more than anything else, to do right with you, and if I knew it 
would be doing right, as I rather suspect it would, to let you 
alone, I would do it. And for the purpose of making the matter 
as plain as possible, I now say that you can now drop the subject, 
dismiss your thoughts (if you ever had any) from me forever, 
and leave this letter unanswered, without calling forth one 
accusing murmur from me. And I will even go further and say 
that if it will add anything to your comfort or peace of mind 
to do so, it is my sincere wish that you should. Do not under- 
stand by this that I wish to cut your acquaintance. I mean no 
such thing. What I do wish is that our further acquaintance 
shall depend upon yourself. If such further acquaintance would 
contribute nothing to your happiness, I am sure it would not to 
mine. If you feel yourself in any degree bound to me, I am now 
willing to release you, provided you wish it; while on the other 
hand, I am willing and even anxious to bind you faster if I can 
be convinced that it will in any considerable degree add to your 
happiness. This, indeed, is the whole question with me. Noth- 
ing would make me more miserable than to believe you miserable 
— nothing more happy than to know you were so. 

In what I have now said I think I cannot be misunderstood; 
and to make myself understood is the only object of this letter. 

If it suits you best not to answer this — farewell — a long life 
and a merry one attend you. But if you conclude to write 
back, speak as plainly as I do. There can be neither harm nor 
danger in saying to me anything you think, just in the manner 
you think it. 

My respects to your sister. Your friend 


To Mrs Orville H. Browning: 1 A letter about himself and Mary S. 

Springfield, 1st April 1838. 

Dear Madam: Without apologizing for being egotistical, I 
shall make the history of so much of my own life as has elapsed 
since I saw you the subject of this letter. And by the way, I now 
discover that in order to give a full and intelligible account of the 
things I have done and suffered since I saw you, I shall necessarily 
have to relate some that happened before. 

It was, then, in the autumn of 1836, that a married lady of my 
acquaintance, and who was a great friend of mine, being about to 
pay a visit to her father and other relatives residing in Kentucky, 
proposed to me, that on her return she would bring a sister of 
hers with her, upon condition that I would engage to become 
her brother-in-law with all convenient dispatch. I, of course, 
accepted the proposal; for you know I could not have done 
otherwise, had I really been averse to it; but privately between 
you and me, I was most confoundedly well pleased with the 
project. I had seen the said sister some three years before, 
thought her intelligent and agreeable, and saw no good objection 
to plodding life through hand in hand with her. Time passed 
on, the lady took her journey and in due time returned, sister in 
company sure enough. This stomached me a little; for it 
appeared to me that her coming so readily showed that she was a 
trifle too willing; but on reflection it occurred to me that she 
might have been prevailed on by her married sister to come 
without anything concerning me ever having been mentioned to 
her; and so I concluded that if no other objection presented itself 
I would consent to waive this. All this occurred upon my 
hearing of her arrival in the neighbourhood; for, be it remem- 
bered, I had not yet seen her, except about three years previous, 
as before mentioned. 

In a few days we had an interview, and although I had seen her 
before, she did not look as my imagination had pictured her. I 
knew she was oversize, but she now appeared a fair match for 
Falstaff ; I knew she was called an ' old maid,' and I felt no doubt 
of the truth of at least half of the appellation; but now, when I 

1 The wife of Orville H. Browning of Quincy, Illinois, a lawyer and Whig 
member of the Illinois legislature. 


beheld her, I could not for my life avoid thinking of my mother; 
and this, not from withered features, for her skin was too full 
of fat to permit its contracting into wrinkles ; but from her want of 
teeth, weather-beaten appearance in general, and from a kind of 
notion that ran in my head that nothing could have commenced 
at the size of infancy and reached her present bulk in less than 
thirty-five or forty years ; and, in short, I was not [at] all pleased 
with her. But what could I do? I had told her sister that I would 
take her for better or for worse; and I made a point of honour 
and conscience in all things to stick to my word, especially if 
others had been induced to act on it, which in this case I doubted 
not they had, for I was now fairly convinced that no other man 
on earth would have her, and hence the conclusion that they 
were bent on holding me to my bargain. Well, thought I, I 
have said it, and, be consequences what they may, it shall not be 
my fault if I fail to do it. At once I determined to consider her 
my wife; and this done, all my powers of discovery were put to 
the rack in search of perfections in her, which might be fairly 
set off against her defects. I tried to imagine she was hand- 
some, which, but for her unfortunate corpulency, was actually 
true. Exclusive of this, no woman that I have seen has a 
finer face. I also tried to convince myself that the mind was 
much more to be valued than the person; and in this she was 
not inferior, as I could discover, to any with whom I had been 

Shortly after this, without attempting to come to any positive 
understanding with her, I set out for Vandalia, where and when 
you first saw me. During my stay there I had letters from her 
which did not change my opinion of either her intellect or 
intention; but on the contrary, confirmed it in both. 

All this while, although I was fixed 'firm as the surge repelling 
rock' in my resolution, I found I was continually repenting the 
rashness which had led me to make it. Through life I have been 
in no bondage, either real or imaginary, from the thraldom of 
which I so much desired to be free. 

After my return home I saw nothing to change my opinion of 
her in any particular. She was the same and so was I. I now 
spent my time between planning how I might get along through 
life after my contemplated change of circumstances should have 
taken place; and how I might procrastinate the evil day for a 


time, which I really dreaded as much — perhaps more — than an 
Irishman does the halter. 

After all my suffering upon this deeply interesting subject, 
here I am, wholly unexpectedly, completely out of the 'scrape'; 
and I now want to know if you can guess how I got out of it. 
Out clear in every sense of the term; no violation of word, 
honour, or conscience. I don't believe you can guess, and so I 
may as well tell you at once. As the lawyers say, it was done 
in the manner following, to wit. After I had delayed the matter 
as long as I thought I could in honour do, which by the way had 
brought me round into the last fall, I concluded I might as well 
bring it to a consummation without further delay; and so I 
mustered my resolution, and made the proposal to her direct; 
but, shocking to relate, she answered, No. At first I supposed 
she did it through an affectation of modesty, which I thought 
but ill became her, under the peculiar circumstances of her case; 
but on my renewal of the charge, I found she repelled it with 
greater firmness than before. I tried it again and again, but 
with the same success, or rather with the same want of success. 
I finally was forced to give it up, at which I very unexpectedly 
found myself mortified almost beyond endurance. I was morti- 
fied, it seemed to me, in a hundred different ways. My vanity 
was deeply wounded by the reflection that I had so long been too 
stupid to discover her intentions, and at the same time never 
doubting that I understood them perfectly; and also, that she 
whom I had taught myself to believe nobody else would have, 
had actually rejected me with all my fancied greatness; and to 
cap the whole, I then, for the first time, began to suspect that I 
was really a little in love with her. But let it all go. I'll try 
and outlive it. Others have been made fools of by the girls; 
but this can never be with truth said of me. I most emphatically, 
in this instance, made a fool of myself. I have now come to the 
conclusion never again to think of marrying; and for this reason: 
I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead 
enough to have me. 

When you receive this, write me a long yarn about something 
to amuse me. Give my respects to Mr Browning. Your sincere 


To William Butler, friend and political associate. 

Vandalia, 1st February 1839. 

Friend Butler: Your letter enclosing one to Mr Baker 1 was 
received on yesterday evening. There is no necessity for any 
bad feeling between Baker and yourself. Your first letter to 
him was written while you were in a state of high excitement, and 
therefore ought not to have been construed as an emanation 
of deliberate malice. Unfortunately, however, it reached Baker 
while he was writhing under a severe toothache, and therefore he 
at that time was incapable of exercising that patience and 
reflection which the case required. The note he sent you was 
written while in that state of feeling, and for that reason I think 
you ought not to pay any serious regard to it. It is always 
magnanimous to recant whatever we may have said in passion; 
and when you and Baker shall have done this, I am sure there 
will no difficulty be left between you. I write this without 
Baker's knowledge; and I do it because nothing would be more 
painful to me than to see a difficulty between two of my most 
particular friends. . . . 

No news here now. Your friend as ever 

To John T. Stuart, Lincoln's law partner, now in Washington as a 
member of Congress. 

Springfield, 23rd December 1839. 

Dear Stuart: Dr Henry will write you all the political news. 
I write this about some little matters of business. You recollect 
you told me you had drawn the Chicago Musick money and sent 

it to the claimants. A d d hawk-billed yankee is here, 

besetting me at every turn I take, saying that Robt Kinzie never 
received the $80 to which he was entitled. Can you tell anything 
about the matter? 

Again old Mr Wright, who lives up South Fork somewhere, is 
teasing me continually about some deeds which he says he left 
with you, but which I can find nothing of. Can you tell where 
they are? 

1 Edward D. Baker, Springfield lawyer and Whig member of the Illinois 


The legislature is in session, and has suffered the Bank to for- 
feit its charter without Benefit of Clergy. There seems to be but 
very little disposition to resuscitate it. Whenever a letter comes 
from you to Mrs Stuart I carry it to her, and then I see Betty. 
She is a tolerably tAcq fellow now. Maybe I will write again when 
I get more time. Your friend as ever 

P.S. The Democratic giant 1 is here; but he is not now worth 
talking about. 

Letter to William G. Anderson, a political opponent. 

Lawrenceville, Illinois, 31st October 1840. 

Dear Sir: Your note of yesterday is received. In the difficulty 
between us, of which you speak, you say you think I was the 
aggressor. I do not think I was. You say my 'words imported 
insult.' I meant them as a fair set-off to your own statements, 
and not otherwise; and in that light alone I now wish you to 
understand them. You ask for my 'present feelings on the 
subject.' I entertain no unkind feeling to you, and none of any 
sort upon the subject, except a sincere regret that I permitted 
myself to get into such an altercation. Yours, etc. 

To John T. Stuart. 

Springfield, 20th January 1841. 

Dear Stuart : I have had no letter from you since you left. No 
matter for that. What I wish now is to speak of our post office. 
You know I desired Dr Henry 2 to have that place when you left ; 
I now desire it more than ever. I have, within the last few days, 
been making a most discreditable exhibition of myself in the way 
of hypochondriaism and thereby got an impression that Dr 
Henry is necessary to my existence. Unless he gets that place he 
leaves Springfield. You therefore see how much I am interested 
in the matter. 

We shall shortly forward you a petition in his favour signed by 

1 Stephen A. Douglas, whom Stuart had narrowly defeated in the Con- 
gressional election. 

2 Anson G. Henry, Springfield physician and Whig politician. On 1st 
January 1841 Lincoln's engagement to Mary Todd had been broken, 
leaving him afflicted with the deepest melancholia. 


all or nearly all the Whig members of the Legislature, as well as 
other Whigs. 

This, together with what you know of the Dr's position and 
merits, I sincerely hope will secure him the appointment. My 
heart is very much set upon it. 

Pardon me for not writing more; I have not sufficient com- 
posure to write a long letter. As ever yours 

From a letter to John T. Stuart. 

Springfield, 23rd January 1841. 

. . . For not giving you a general summary of news, you must 
pardon me; it is not in my power to do so. I am now the most 
miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to 
the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on 
the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I cannot tell; 1 awfully 
forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must 
die or be better, it appears to me. The matter you speak of on 
my account, you may attend to as you say, unless you shall hear 
of my condition forbidding it. I say this because I fear I shall be 
unable to attend to any business here, and a change of scene 
might help me. If I could be myself I would rather remain at 
home with Judge Logan. I can write no more. Your friend, 
as ever 

To Mary Speed after a visit to the Speed home near Louisville, 
Kentucky, at the invitation of her brother Joshua, former 
Springfield store-keeper. 

Bloomington, Illinois, 27th September 1841. 

My Friend: Having resolved to write to some of your mother's 
family, and not having the express permission of any one of them 
to do so, I have had some little difficulty in determining on which 
to inflict the task of reading what I now feel must be a most dull 
and silly letter; but when I remembered that you and I were 
something of cronies while I was at Farmington, and that, while 
there, I once was under the necessity of shutting you up in a room 
to prevent your committing an assault and battery upon me, I 
instantly decided that you should be the devoted one. 


I assume that you have not heard from Joshua and myself 
since we left, because I think it doubtful whether he has written. 

You remember there was some uneasiness about Joshua's 
health when we left. That little indisposition of his turned out 
to be nothing serious; and it was pretty nearly forgotten when 
we reached Springfield. We got on board the steamboat 
Lebanon, in the locks of the canal, about twelve o'clock m. of 
the day we left, and reached St Louis the next Monday at 8 p.m. 
Nothing of interest happened during the passage, except the 
vexatious delays occasioned by the sand-bars be thought interest- 
ing. By the way, a fine example was presented on board the 
boat for contemplating the effect of condition upon human 
happiness. A gentleman had purchased twelve Negroes in 
different parts of Kentucky and was taking them to a farm in 
the South. They were chained six and six together. A small 
iron clevis was around the left wrist of each, and this fastened to 
the main chain by a shorter one at a convenient distance from the 
others ; so that the Negroes were strung together precisely like so 
many fish upon a trot-line. In this condition they were being 
separated forever from the scenes of their childhood, their friends, 
their fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters, and many of 
them, from their wives and children, and going into perpetual 
slavery where the lash of the master is proverbially more ruthless 
and unrelenting than any other where; and yet amid all these 
distressing circumstances, as we would think them, they were the 
most cheerful and apparently happy creatures on board. One, 
whose offence for which he had been sold was an over-fondness 
for his wife, played the fiddle almost continually ; and the others 
danced, sung, cracked jokes, and played various games with 
cards from day to day. How true it is that 'God tempers the 
wind to the shorn lamb,' or in other words, that He renders the 
worst of human conditions tolerable, while He permits the best 
to be nothing better than tolerable. 

To return to the narrative. When we reached Springfield, I 
stayed but one day when I started on this tedious circuit where 
I now am. Do you remember my going to the city while I was 
in Kentucky to have a tooth extracted, and making a failure of it? 
Well, that same old tooth got to paining me so much that about a 
week since I had it torn out, bringing with it a bit of the jawbone; 
the consequence of which is that my mouth is now so sore that I 


can neither talk nor eat. I am literally 'subsisting on savoury 
remembrances' — that is, being unable to eat, I am living upon 
the remembrance of the delicious dishes of peaches and cream 
we used to have at your house. 

When we left, Miss Fanny Henning x was owing you a visit, 
as I understood. Has she paid it yet? If she has, are you not 
convinced that she is one of the sweetest girls in the world? 
There is but one thing about her, so far as I could perceive, that 
I would have otherwise than as it is. That is something of a 
tendency to melancholy. This, let it be observed, is a mis- 
fortune not a fault. Give her an assurance of my very highest 
regard, when you see her. 

Is little Siss Davis at your house yet? If she is kiss her 'o'er 
and o'er again' for me. 

Tell your mother that I have not got her 'present' with me; 
but that I intend to read it regularly when I return home. I 
doubt not that it is really, as she says, the best cure for the 
'blues' could one but take it according to the truth. 

Give my respects to all your sisters (including 'Aunt Emma') 
and brothers. Tell Mrs Peay, of whose happy face I shall long 
retain a pleasant remembrance, that I have been trying to think 
of a name for her homestead, but as yet cannot satisfy myself 
with one. I shall be very happy to receive a line from you, soon 
after you receive this ; and, in case you choose to favour me with 
one, address it to Charleston, Coles County, Illinois, as I shall 
be there about the time to receive it. Your sincere friend 

To Joshua Speed, beset by doubts about his forthcoming marriage. 

Springfield, [3rd? January 1842]. 

My dear Speed: Feeling, as you know I do, the deepest solici- 
tude for the success of the enterprise you are engaged in, I adopt 
this as the last method I can invent to aid you, in case (which 
God forbid) you shall need any aid. I do not place what I am 
going to say on paper, because I can say it any better in that way 
than I could by word of mouth; but because, were I to say it 
orally, before we part, most likely you would forget it at the very 
time when it might do you some good. As I think it reasonable 
that you will feel very badly some time between this and the 
1 Speed's future wife. 


final consummation of your purpose, it is intended that you shall 
read this just at such a time. 

When I say it is reasonable that you will feel very badly yet,, 
is because of three special causes, added to the general one which 
I shall mention. 

The general cause is that you are naturally of a nervous tempera- 
ment; and this I say from what I have seen of you personally, 
and what you have told me concerning your mother at various 
times, and concerning your brother William at the time his wife 

The first special cause is your exposure to bad weather on your 
journey, which my experience clearly proves to be very severe on 
defective nerves. 

The second is the absence of all business and conversation of 
friends, which might divert your mind and give it occasional rest 
from that intensity of thought, which will sometimes wear the 
sweetest idea threadbare and turn it to the bitterness of death. 

The third is the rapid and near approach of that crisis on which 
all your thoughts and feelings concentrate. 

If from all these causes you shall escape and go through 
triumphantly, without another 'twinge of the soul,' I shall be 
most happily, but most egregiously, deceived. 

If, on the contrary, you shall, as I expect you will at some time, 
be agonized and distressed, let me, who have some reason to 
speak with judgment on such a subject, beseech you to ascribe 
it to the causes I have mentioned, and not to some false and 
ruinous suggestion of the Devil. 

'But,' you will say, 'do not your causes apply to everyone 
engaged in a like undertaking?' 

By no means. The particular causes, to a greater or less 
extent, perhaps do apply in all cases ; but the general one, nervous 
debility, which is the key and conductor of all the particular 
ones, and without which they would be utterly harmless, though 
it does pertain to you, does not pertain to one in a thousand. It 
is out of this that the painful difference between you and the 
mass of the world springs. 

I know what the painful point with you is, at all times when 
you are unhappy. It is an apprehension that you do not love 
her * as you should. What nonsense ! How came you to court 
1 Miss Fanny Henning. 


her? Was it because you thought she desired it; and that you 
had given her reason to expect it? If it was for that, why did 
not the same reason make you court Ann Todd, and at least 
twenty others of whom you can think, and to whom it would 
apply with greater force than to herl Did you court her for 
her wealth? Why, you knew she had none. But you say you 
reasoned yourself into it. What do you mean by that? Was it 
not that you found yourself unable to reason yourself out of it? 
Did you not think, and partly form the purpose, of courting her 
the first time you ever saw or heard of her? What had reason 
to do with it, at that early stage? There was nothing at that 
time for reason to work upon. Whether she was moral, amiable, 
sensible, or even of good character, you did not, nor could not 
then know; except perhaps you might infer the last from the 
company you found her in. All you then did or could know of 
her was her personal appearance and deportment', and these, if 
they impress at all, impress the heart and not the head. 

Say candidly, were not those heavenly black eyes the whole 
basis of all your early reasoning on the subject? 

After you and I had once been at her residence, did you not go 
and take me all the way to Lexington and back, for no other 
purpose but to get to see her again, on our return, in that seeming 
to take a trip for that express object? 

What earthly consideration would you take to find her scouting 
and despising you, and giving herself up to another? But of this 
you have no apprehension; and therefore you cannot bring it 
home to your feelings. 

I shall be so anxious about you, that I want you to write me 
every mail. Your friend 

To Joshua Speed, whose fiancee was critically ill. 

Springfield, 3rd February 1842. 

Dear Speed: Your letter of the 25th Jany. came to hand to-day. 
You well know that I do not feel my own sorrows much more 
keenly than I do yours, when I know of them; and yet I assure 
you I was not much hurt by what you wrote me of your exces- 
sively bad feeling at the time you wrote. Not that I am less 
capable of sympathizing with you now than ever; not that I am 


less your friend than ever; but because I hope and believe that 
your present anxiety and distress about her 1 health and her life, 
must and will forever banish those horrid doubts which I know 
you sometimes felt, as to the truth of your affection for her. If 
they can be once and forever removed (and I almost feel a 
presentiment that the Almighty has sent your present affliction 
expressly for that object), surely nothing can come in their stead 
to fill their immeasurable measure of misery. The death scenes 
of those we love are surely painful enough; but these we are 
prepared to, and expect to see. They happen to all, and all 
know they must happen. Painful as they are, they are not an 
unlooked-for sorrow. Should she, as you fear, be destined to 
an early grave, it is indeed a great consolation to know that 
she is so well prepared to meet it. Her religion, which you 
once disliked so much, I will venture you now prize most 

But I hope your melancholy bodings as to her early death are 
not well founded. I even hope that ere this reaches you she will 
have returned with improved and still improving health; and 
that you will have met her and forgotten the sorrows of the past 
in the enjoyment of the present. 

I would say more if I could; but it seems I have said enough. 
It really appears to me that you yourself ought to rejoice and not 
sorrow at this indubitable evidence of your undying affection for 
her. Why, Speed, if you did not love her, although you might, 
not wish her death, you would most calmly be resigned to it. 
Perhaps this point is no longer a question with you, and my 
pertinacious dwelling upon it is a rude intrusion upon your 
feelings. If so, you must pardon me. You know the hell I 
have suffered on that point, and how tender I am upon it. You 
know I do not mean wrong. 

I have been quite clear of hypo 2 since you left, even better than 
I was along in the fall. 

I have seen Sarah but once. She seemed very cheerful and 
so I said nothing to her about what we spoke of. 

Old Uncle Billy Herndon is dead; and it is said this evening 

1 Miss Fanny Henning. 

2 Hypochondria, or hypochondriasis, meaning, roughly, a state of 
depression bordering on the abnormal. It seems to have been a fairly 
popular affliction in the western United States a century or so ago. 



that Uncle Ben Ferguson will not live. This I believe is all the 
news, and enough at that unless it were better. 

Write me immediately on the receipt of this. Your friend, as 

To Joshua Speed, just married. 

Springfield, 13th February 1842. 

Dear Speed: Yours of the 1st inst. came to hand three or four 
days ago. When this shall reach you, you will have been Fanny's 
husband several days. You know my desire to befriend you is 
everlasting — that I will never cease, while I know how to do 

But you will always hereafter be on ground that I have never 
occupied, and consequently, if advice were needed, I might 
advise wrong. 

I do fondly hope, however, that you will never again need any 
comfort from abroad. But should I be mistaken in this — should 
excessive pleasure still be accompanied with a painful counter- 
part at times, still let me urge you, as I have ever done, to 
remember in the depth and even the agony of despondency, that 
very shortly you are to feel well again. I am now fully con- 
vinced that you love her as ardently as you are capable of loving. 
Your ever being happy in her presence, and your intense anxiety 
about her health, if there were nothing else, would place this 
beyond all dispute in my mind. I incline to think it probable 
that your nerves will fail you occasionally for a while; but once 
you get them fairly graded now, that trouble is over forever. 

I think if I were you, in case my mind were not exactly right, 
I would avoid being idle; I would immediately engage in some 
business, or go to making preparations for it, which would be 
the same thing. 

If you went through the ceremony calmly, or even with 
sufficient composure not to excite alarm in any present, you are 
safe, beyond question, and in two or three months, to say the 
most, will be the happiest of men. 

I hope with tolerable confidence that this letter is a plaster 
for a place that is no longer sore. God grant it may be so. 

I would desire you to give my particular respects to Fanny, but 
perhaps you will not wish her to know you have received this, 


lest she should desire to see it. Make her write me an answer 
to my last letter to her at any rate. I would set great value upon 
another letter from her. 
Write me whenever you have leisure. Yours forever 

To Joshua F. Speed, who has confessed that his marriage has 
brought him happiness. 

Springfield, 25th February 1842. 

Dear Speed : I received yours of the 1 2th written the day you 
went down to William's place, some days since; but delayed 
answering it till I should receive the promised one of the 16th, 
which came last night. I opened the latter with intense anxiety 
and trepidation — so much, that although it turned out better 
than I expected, I have hardly yet, at the distance of ten hours, 
become calm. 

I tell you, Speed, our forebodings, for which you and I are 
rather peculiar, are all the worst sort of nonsense. I fancied, 
from the time I received your letter of Saturday, that the one of 
Wednesday was never to come; and yet it did come, and what is 
more, it is perfectly clear, both from its tone and handwriting, 
that you were much happier, or, if you think the term preferable, 
less miserable, when you wrote it, than when you wrote the last 
one before. You had so obviously improved, at the very time 
I so much feared you would have grown worse. You say that 
'something indescribably horrible and alarming still haunts you.' 
You will not say that three months from now, I will venture. 
When your nerves once get steady now, the whole trouble will 
be over forever. Nor should you become impatient at their 
being even very slow in becoming steady. Again, you say you 
much fear that the Elysium of which you have dreamed so much 
is never to be realized. Well, if it shall not, I dare swear it will 
not be the fault of her who is now your wife. I now have no 
doubt that it is the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to 
dream dreams of Elysium far exceeding all that anything earthly 
can realize. Far short of your dreams as you may be, no woman 
could do more to realize them than that same black-eyed Fanny. 
If you could but contemplate her through my imagination, it 
would appear ridiculous to you that anyone should for a moment 
think of being unhappy with her. My old Father used to have a 


saying that 'If you make a bad bargain, hug it the tighter'; and 
it occurs to me that if the bargain you have just closed can 
possibly be called a bad one, it is certainly the most pleasant one 
for applying that maxim to, which my fancy can, by any effort, 

I write another letter enclosing this, which you can show her 
if she desires it. I do this because she would think strangely 
perhaps should you tell her that you receive no letters from me ; 
or, telling her you do, should refuse to let her see them. 

I close this, entertaining the confident hope that every suc- 
cessive letter I shall have from you (which I here pray may not 
be few, nor far between), may show you possessing a more steady 
hand and cheerful heart than the last preceding it. As ever, 
your friend 

To Joshua F. Speed, for his wife's eye. 

Springfield, 25th February 1842. 

Dear Speed: Yours of the 16th inst. announcing that Miss 
Fanny and you 'are no more twain, but one flesh,' reached me 
this morning. I have no way of telling how much happiness I 
wish you both; tho' I believe you both can conceive it. I feel 
somewhat jealous of both of you now ; you will be so exclusively 
concerned for one another that I shall be forgotten entirely. My 
acquaintance with Miss Fanny (I call her thus, lest you should 
think I am speaking of your mother), was too short for me to 
reasonably hope to long be remembered by her; and still, I 
am sure, I shall not forget her soon. Try if you cannot remind 
her of that debt she owes me ; and be sure you do not interfere 
to prevent her paying it. 

I regret to learn that you have resolved to not return to Illinois. 
I shall be very lonesome without you. How miserably things 
seem to be arranged in this world. If we have no friends, we 
have no pleasure; and if we have them, we are sure to lose them 
and be doubly pained by the loss. I did hope she and you would 
make your home here; but I own I have no right to insist. You 
owe obligations to her, ten thousand times more sacred than any 
you can owe to others; and, in that light, let them be respected 
and observed. It is natural that she should desire to remain 


with her relatives and friends. As to friends, however, she could 
not need them anywhere; she would have them in abundance 

Give my kind remembrance to Mr Williamson and his family, 
particularly Miss Elizabeth — also to your mother, brothers, and 
sisters. Ask little Eliza Davis if she will ride to town with me if 
I come there again. 

And, finally, give Fanny a double reciprocation of all the love 
she sent me. Write me often, and believe me Yours forever 

From a letter to Joshua F. Speed in which Lincoln reveals his own 

Springfield, 27th March 1842. 

Dear Speed: Yours of the 10th inst. was received three or four 
days since. You know I am sincere when I tell you the pleasure 
its contents gave me was and is inexpressible. As to your farm 
matter, I have no sympathy with you. / have no farm, nor ever 
expect to have; and, consequently, have not studied the subject 
enough to be much interested with it. I can only say that I am 
glad you are satisfied and pleased with it. 

But on that other subject, to me of the most intense interest, 
whether in joy or sorrow, I never had the power to withhold my 
sympathy from you. It cannot be told how it now thrills me 
with joy to hear you say you are 'far happier than you ever 
expected to be' That much I know is enough. I know you too 
well to suppose your expectations were not, at least sometimes, 
extravagant; and if the reality exceeds them all, I say, enough, 
dear Lord. I am not going beyond the truth when I tell you 
that the short space it took me to read your last letter gave me 
more pleasure than the total sum of all I have enjoyed since that 
fatal first of Jany. '41. 1 Since then, it seems to me, I should 
have been entirely happy, but for the never-absent idea that there 
is one still unhappy whom I have contributed to make so. That 
still kills my soul. I cannot but reproach myself for even wishing 
to be happy while she is otherwise. She accompanied a large 
party on the railroad cars to Jacksonville last Monday; and on 
her return spoke, so that I heard of it, of having enjoyed the trip 
exceedingly. God be praised for that. 

1 The date on which Lincoln's engagement to Mary Todd was broken. 


You know with what sleepless vigilance I have watched you, 
ever since the commencement of your affair; and altho' I am now 
almost confident it is useless, I cannot forbear once more to say 
that I think it is even yet possible for your spirits to flag down 
and leave you miserable. If they should, don't fail to remember 
that they cannot long remain so. . . . 

The sweet violet you enclosed came safely to hand, but it was 
so dry and mashed so flat that it crumbled to dust at the first 
attempt to handle it. The juice that mashed out of it stained a 
place on the letter, which I mean to preserve and cherish for the 
sake of her who procured it to be sent. My renewed good wishes 
to her, in particular, and generally to all such of your relatives 
as know me. As ever 

From a letter to Joshua F. Speed on the writer's own irresolution. 

Springfield, 4th July 1842. 

Dear Speed: Yours of the 16th June was received only a day 
or two since. It was not mailed at Louisville till the 25th. You 
speak of the great time that has elapsed since I wrote you. Let 
me explain that. Your letter reached here a day or two after I 
started on the circuit; I was gone five or six weeks, so that I got 
the letter only a few days before Butler started to your country. 
I thought it scarcely worth while to write you the news, which he 
could and would tell you more in detail. On his return he told 
me you would write me soon; and so I waited for your letter. 
As to my having been displeased with your advice, surely you 
know better than that. I know you do; and therefore I will not 
labour to convince you. True, that subject is painful to me; 
but it is not your silence, or the silence of all the world, that can 
make me forget it. I acknowledge the correctness of your 
advice too ; but before I resolve to do the one thing or the other, 
I must regain my confidence in my own ability to keep my resolves 
when they are made. In that ability, you know, I once prided 
myself as the only, or at least the chief, gem of my character; 
that gem I lost — how, and when, you too well know. I have not 
yet regained it; and until I do I cannot trust myself in any matter 
of much importance. I believe now that, had you understood 


my case at the time, as well as I understood yours afterwards, by 
the aid you would have given me I should have sailed through 
clear; but that does not now afford me sufficient confidence to 
begin that, or the like of that, again. 

You make a kind acknowledgment of your obligations to me 
for your present happiness. I am much pleased with that 
acknowledgment; but a thousand times more am I pleased to 
know that you enjoy a degree of happiness worthy of an acknow- 
ledgment. The truth is, I am not sure there was any merit, 
with me, in the part I took in your difficulty; I was drawn to it 
as by fate; if I would, I could not have done less than I did. I 
always was superstitious; and as part of my superstition, I 
believe God made me one of the instruments of bringing your 
Fanny and you together, which union, I have no doubt, He had 
fore-ordained. Whatever he designs, he will do for me yet. 
'Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord' is my text just now. 
If, as you say, you have told Fanny all, I should have no objection 
to her seeing this letter, but for its reference to our friend here. 
Let her seeing it depend upon whether she has ever known any- 
thing -of my affair; and if she has not, do not let her. 

I do not think I can come to Kentucky this season. I am so 
poor and make so little headway in the world that I drop back 
in a month of idleness as much as I gain in a year's rowing. I 
should like to visit you again. I should like to see that ' Sis ' of 
yours, that was absent when I was there; tho' I suppose she would 
run away again, if she were to hear I was coming. . . . Ever 

To Joshua Speed, on an epidemic of duelling fever — and experience 
of marriage. 

Springfield, 5th October 1842. 

Dear Speed: You have heard of my duel with Shields, 1 and I 
have now to inform you that the duelling business still rages in 
this city. Day before yesterday Shields challenged Butler, who 
accepted, and proposed fighting next morning at sun-rising in 

1 James Shields, Illinois State Auditor, whom Lincoln had lampooned 
in a communication to the Sangamo Journal. Shields had sent a challenge, 
which Lincoln accepted, but the two men composed their differences on 
the duelling ground. 

24 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

Bob Allen's meadow, one hundred yards distance with rifles. 
To this, Whitesides, Shields' second, said 'No' because of the 
law. Thus ended duel No. 2. Yesterday, Whitesides chose to 
consider himself insulted by Dr Merryman, and so sent him a 
kind of quasi challenge inviting him to meet him at the Planter's 
House in St Louis on the next Friday to settle their difficulty. 
Merryman made me his friend, and sent W. a note inquiring to 
know if he meant his note as a challenge, and, if so, that he would, 
according to the law in such case made and provided, prescribe 
the terms of the meeting. W. returned for answer that if M. 
would meet him at the Planter's House as desired, he would 
challenge him. M. replied in a note that he denied W.'s right 
to dictate time and place; but that he, M., would waive the 
question of time, and meet him at Louisiana, Missouri. Upon 
my presenting this note to W. and stating verbally its contents 
he declined receiving it, saying he had business at St Louis, and 
it was as near as Louisiana. Merryman then directed me to 
notify Whitesides that he should publish the correspondence 
between them with such comments as he thought fit. This I did. 
Thus it stood at bed time last night. This morning Whitesides, 
by his friend Shields, is praying for a new trial, on the ground 
that he was mistaken in Merryman's proposition to meet at 
Louisiana, Missouri, thinking it was the state of Louisiana. 
This Merryman hoots at, and is preparing his publication — while 
the town is in a ferment and a street fight somewhat anticipated. 
But I began this letter not for what I have been writing, but to 
say something on that subject which you know to be of such 
infinite solicitude to me. The immense suffering you endured 
from the first days of September till the middle of February you 
never tried to conceal from me, and I well understood. You 
have now been the husband of a lovely woman nearly eight 
months. That you are happier now than you were the day you 
married her I well know; for without, you would not be living. 
But I have your word for it too; and the returning elasticity of 
spirits which is manifested in your letters. But I want to ask a 
closer question — ' Are you now, in feeling as well as judgment, 
glad you are married as you are?' From anybody but me this 
would be an impudent question not to be tolerated ; but I know 
you will pardon it in me. Please answer it quickly as I feel 
impatient to know. 


I have sent my love to your Fanny so often that I fear she is 
getting tired of it; however, I venture to tender it again. Yours 

To James S. Irwin, a client of Logan & Lincoln, on fees. 

Springfield, 2nd November 1842. 

Owing to my absence, yours of the 22nd ult. was not received 
till this moment. 

Judge Logan x and myself are willing to attend to any business 
in the Supreme Court you may send us. As to fees, it is impos- 
sible to establish a rule that will apply in all, or even a great many 
cases. We believe we are never accused of being very unreason- 
able in this particular; and we would always be easily satisfied, 
provided we could see the money — but whatever fees we earn at a 
distance, if not paid before, we have noticed we never hear of 
after the work is done. We therefore are growing a little sen- 
sitive on that point. Yours etc. 

To Samuel D. Marshall: a lawyer's letter, with a personal 

Springfield, 11th November 1842. 

Dear Sam: Yours of the 10th Oct. enclosing five dollars 
was taken from the office in my absence by Judge Logan who 
neglected to hand it to me till about a week ago, and just an 
hour before I took a wife. Your other of the 3rd inst. is also 
received. The Forbes and Hill case, of which you speak, has 
not been brought up as yet. 

I have looked into the Dorman and Lane case, till I believe I 
understand the facts of it; and I also believe we can reverse it. 
In the last I may be mistaken, but I think the case at least worth 
the experiment; and if Dorman will risk the cost, I will do my 
best for the 'biggest kind of a fee' as you say, if we succeed, and 
nothing if we fail. I have not had a chance to consult Logan 
since I read your letters, but if the case comes up, I can have the 
use of him if I need him. 

I would advise you to procure the record and send it up 

1 Lincoln entered into a law partnership with Stephen T. Logan in the 
spring of 1841. 

* R 206 


immediately. Attend to the making out of the record yourself, 
or most likely the clerk will not get it all together right. 

Nothing new here, except my marrying, 1 which to me is 
matter of profound wonder. Yours forever 

To Richard S. Thomas, a Whig residing in Lincoln's congressional 

Springfield, 14th February 1843. 

Friend Richard: . . . Now if you should hear anyone say that 
Lincoln don't want to go to Congress, I wish you as a personal 
friend of mine would tell him you have reason to believe he is 
mistaken. The truth is, I would like to go very much. Still, 
circumstances may happen which may prevent my being a 

If there are any who be my friends in such an enterprise, what 
I now want is that they shall not throw me away just yet. Yours 
as ever 

From a letter to Joshua F. Speed announcing a political reversal. 

Springfield, 24th March 1843. 

. . . We had a meeting of the Whigs of the county here on last 
Monday to appoint delegates to a district convention, and Baker 2 
beat me and got the delegation instructed to go for him. The 
meeting, in spite of my attempt to decline it, appointed me one 
of the delegates ; so that in getting Baker the nomination, I shall 
be 'fixed' a good deal like a fellow who is made groomsman to 
the man what has cut him out, and is marrying his own dear 
'gal.' About the prospect of your having a namesake at our 
house, can't say, exactly yet. 

From a letter to Joshua F. Speed. 

Springfield, 18th May 1843. 

Dear Speed: Yours of the 9th inst. is duly received, which I 
do not meet as a 'bore,' but as a most welcome visitor. . . . 
In relation to our congress matter here, you were right in 

1 Lincoln and Mary Todd were married on 4th November 1842. 

2 Edward D. Baker. See p. lOn. 


supposing I would support the nominee. Neither Baker nor I, 
however, is the man; but Hardin. 1 So far as I can judge from 
present appearances, we shall have no split or trouble about the 
matter; all will be harmony. In relation to the 'coming events' 2 
about which Butler wrote you, I had not heard one word before 
I got your letter; but I have so much confidence in the judgment 
of a Butler on such a subject, that I incline to think there may 
be some reality in it. What day does Butler appoint? By the 
way, how do 'events' of the same sort come on in your family? 
Are you possessing houses and lands, and oxen and asses, and 
men-servants and maid-servants, and begetting sons and 
daughters? We are not keeping house; but boarding at the 
Globe tavern, which is very well kept now by a widow lady of 
the name of Beck. Our room (the same Dr Wallace occupied 
there) and boarding only costs four dollars a week. Ann Todd 
was married something more than a year since to a fellow by 
the name of Campbell, and who, Mary says, is pretty much of a 
'dunce' though he has a little money and property. They live in 
Boonville, Missouri; and have not been heard from lately enough 
to enable me to say anything about her health. I reckon it will 
scarcely be in our power to visit Kentucky this year. Besides 
poverty, and the necessity of attending to business, those 'coming 
events ' I suspect would be somewhat in the way. I most heartily 
wish you and your Fanny would not fail to come. Just let us 
know the time a week in advance, and we will have a room pro- 
vided for you at our house, and all be merry together for awhile. 
Be sure to give my respects to your mother and family. Assure 
her that if I ever come near her I will not fail to call and see her. 
Mary joins in sending love to your Fanny and you. Yours as 

To Williamson Durley, a friend and supporter who lived in the 
strongly anti-slavery town of Hennepin, Putnam County, Illinois. 

Springfield, 3rd October 1845. 

Friend Durley : When I saw you at home, it was agreed that 

I should write to you and your brother Madison. Until I then 

saw you, I was not aware of your being what is generally called 

1 John J. Hardin, a popular Whig of Jacksonville, Illinois. 

2 Robert Todd Lincoln was born 1st August 1843. 


an abolitionist, or, as you call yourself, a Liberty-man ; though I 
well knew there were many such in your county. I was glad to 
hear you say that you intend to attempt to bring about, at the 
next election in Putnam, a union of the Whigs proper, and such 
of the Liberty-men as are Whigs in principle on all questions 
save only that of slavery. So far as I can perceive, by such 
union, neither party need yield anything, on the point in difference 
between them. If the Whig abolitionists of New York had voted 
with us last fall, Mr Clay would now be president, Whig principles 
in the ascendant, and Texas not annexed ; whereas by the division, 
all that either had at stake in the contest was lost. And, 
indeed, it was extremely probable, beforehand, that such would 
be the result. As I always understood, the Liberty-men depre- 
cated the annexation of Texas extremely ; and, this being so, why 
they should refuse to so cast their votes as to prevent it, even to 
me seemed wonderful. What was their process of reasoning, 
I can only judge from what a single one of them told me. It 
was this: 'We are not to do evil that good may come.' This 
general proposition is doubtless correct; but did it apply? If 
by your votes you could have prevented the extension, etc., of 
slavery, would it not have been good and not evil so to have used 
your votes, even though it involved the casting of them for a 
slaveholder? By the fruit the tree is to be known. An evil tree 
cannot bring forth good fruit. If the fruit of electing Mr Clay 
would have been to prevent the extension of slavery, could the 
act of electing have been eviP. 

But I will not argue further. I perhaps ought to say that 
individually I never was much interested in the Texas question. 
I never could see much good to come of annexation ; inasmuch 
as they were already a free republican people on our own model; 
on the other hand, I never could very clearly see how the annexa- 
tion would augment the evil of slavery. It always seemed to 
me that slaves would be taken there in about equal numbers, 
with or without annexation. And if more were taken because 
of annexation, still there would be just so many the fewer left, 
where they were taken from. It is possibly true, to some extent, 
that with annexation some slaves may be sent to Texas and 
continued in slavery that otherwise might have been liberated. 
To whatever extent this may be true, I think annexation an evil. 
I hold it to be a paramount duty of us in the free states, due to 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 29 

the Union of the states, and perhaps to liberty itself (paradox 
though it may seem) to let the slavery of the other states alone; 
while, on the other hand, I hold it to be equally clear that we 
should never knowingly lend ourselves directly or indirectly to 
prevent that slavery from dying a natural death — to find new 
places for it to live in, when it can no longer exist in the old. Of 
course I am not now considering what would be our duty, in 
cases of insurrection among the slaves. 

To recur to the Texas question, I understand the Liberty-men 
to have viewed annexation as a much greater evil than I ever did; 
and I would like to convince you if I could, that they could have 
prevented it, without violation of principle, if they had chosen. 

I intend this letter for you and Madison together; and if you 
and he or either shall think fit to drop me a line, I shall be pleased. 
Yours with respect 

To Robert Boal, a Whig of Marshall County, Illinois. 

Springfield, 7th January 1846. 

Dear Doctor: Since I saw you last fall, I have often thought of 
writing you as it was then understood I would, but on reflection 
I have always found that I had nothing new to tell you. All has 
happened as I then told you I expected it would — Baker's 
declining, Hardin's taking the track, and so on. 

If Hardin and I stood precisely equal — that is, if neither of us 
had been to Congress, or if we both had — it would only accord 
with what I have always done, for the sake of peace, to give way 
to him; and I expect I should do it. That I can voluntarily 
postpone my pretentions, when they are no more than equal to 
those to which they are postponed, you have yourself seen. But 
to yield to Hardin under present circumstances seems to me as 
nothing else than yielding to one who would gladly sacrifice me 
altogether. This I would rather not submit to. That Hardin 
is talented, energetic, usually generous and magnanimous, I have, 
before this, affirmed to you, and do not now deny. You know 
that my only argument is that 'turn about is fair play.' This he, 
practically at least, denies. 

If it would not be taxing you too much, I wish you would write 
me, telling the aspect of things in your county, or rather your 


district; and also send the names of some of your Whig neigh- 
bours, to whom I might with propriety write. Unless I can get 
someone to do this, Hardin with his old franking list will have 
the advantage of me. My reliance for a fair shake (and I want 
nothing more) in your county is chiefly on you, because of your 
position and standing, and because I am acquainted with so 
few others. Let this be strictly confidential, and any letter you 
may write me shall be the same if you desire. Let me hear from 
you soon. Yours truly 

To Andrew Johnston, of Quincy, Illinois: a poem. 

Springfield, 24th February 1846. 

Dear Johnston : Feeling a little poetic this evening, I have con- 
cluded to redeem my promise this evening by sending you the 
piece you expressed the wish to have. 1 You find it enclosed. I 
wish I could think of something else to say; but I believe I 
cannot. By the way, how would you like to see a piece of 
poetry of my own making? I have a piece that is almost done, 
but I find a deal of trouble to finish it. 

Give my respects to Mr Williams, and have him, together with 
yourself, to understand that if there is anything I can do in 
connection with your business in the courts, I shall take pleasure 
in doing it, upon notice. Yours forever 


My childhood-home I see again, 2 

And gladden with the view; 
And still as mem'ries crowd my brain, 

There's sadness in it too. 

O memory ! thou mid-way world 

'Twixt Earth and Paradise, 
Where things decayed, and loved ones lost 

In dreamy shadows rise. 

And freed from all that's gross or vile, 

Seem hallowed, pure, and bright, 
Like scenes in some enchanted isle, 

All bathed in liquid light. 

1 ' Mortality,' by William Knox — beyond question, Lincoln's favourite 

2 From 1816 to 1830 Lincoln had lived in Spencer County, Indiana. 
See pp. 124, 139. 


As distant mountains please the eye, 

When twilight chases day — 
As bugle-tones, that, passing by, 

In distance die away — 

As leaving some grand waterfall 

We ling'ring, list its roar, 
So memory will hallow all 

We've known, but know no more. 

Now twenty years have passed away, 

Since here I bid farewell 
To woods, and fields, and scenes of play 

And schoolmates loved so well. 

Where many were, how few remain 

Of old familiar things ! 
But seeing these to mind again 

The lost and absent brings. 

The friends I left that parting day — 

How changed, as time has sped ! 
Young childhood grown, strong manhood grey, 

And half of all are dead. 

I hear the lone survivors tell 

How nought from death could save, 
Till every sound appears a knell, 

And every spot a grave. 

I range the fields with pensive tread, 

And pace the hollow rooms ; 
And feel (companions of the dead) 

I 'm living in the tombs. 

And here's an object more of dread, 

Than ought the grave contains — 
A human-form, with reason fled, 

While wretched life remains. 

Poor Matthew! Once of genius bright,— 

A fortune-favoured child — 
Now locked for aye, in mental night, 

A haggard mad-man wild. 

Poor Matthew! I have ne'er forgot 

When first with maddened will, 
Yourself you maimed, your father fought, 

And mother strove to kill; 

And terror spread, and neighbours ran, 

Your dang'rous strength to bind; 
And soon a howling crazy man, 

Your limbs were fast confined. 


How then you writhed and shrieked aloud, 
Your bones and sinews bared ; 

And fiendish on the gaping crowd, 
With burning eyeballs glared. 

And begged, and swore, and wept, and prayed, 
With maniac laughter joined — 

How fearful are the signs displayed, 
By pangs that kill the mind ! 

And when at length, tho' drear and long, 
Time soothed your fiercer woes — 

How plaintively your mournful song, 
Upon the still night rose. 

I've heard it oft, as if I dreamed, 

Far-distant, sweet, and lone; 
The funeral dirge it ever seemed 

Of reason dead and gone. 

To drink its strains, I 've stole away. 

All silently and still, 
Ere yet the rising god of day 

Had streaked the Eastern hill. 

Air held his breath ; the trees all still 
Seemed sorr'wing angels round. 

Their swelling tears in dew-drops fell 
Upon the list'ning ground. 

But this is past, and nought remains 
That raised you o'er the brute. 

Your mad'ning shrieks and soothing strains 
Are like forever mute. 

Now fare thee well : more thou the cause 

Than subject now of woe. 
All mental pangs, but time's kind laws. 

Hast lost the power to know. 

And now away to seek some scene 

Less painful than the last — 
With less of horror mingled in 

The present and the past. 

The very spot where grew the bread 

That formed my bones, I see. 
How strange, old field, on thee to tread, 

And feel I'm part of thee! 


A handbill replying to charges of infidelity. 

31st July 1846. 

Fellow-Citizens : A charge having got into circulation in some 
of the neighbourhoods of this District, in substance that I am an 
open scoffer at Christianity, 1 1 have by the advice of some friends 
concluded to notice the subject in this form. That I am not a 
member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied 
the truth of the Scriptures ; and I have never spoken with inten- 
tional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination 
of Christians in particular. It is true that in early life I was 
inclined to believe in what I understand is called the 'Doctrine 
of Necessity' — that is, that the human mind is impelled to action, 
or held in rest by some power over which the mind itself has no 
control; and I have sometimes (with one, two, or three, but never 
publicly) tried to maintain this opinion in argument. The habit 
of arguing thus, however, I have entirely left off for more than 
five years. And I add here, I have always understood this same 
opinion to be held by several of the Christian denominations. 
The foregoing is the whole truth, briefly stated, in relation to 
myself, upon this subject. 

I do not think I could myself be brought to support a man for 
office whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at, 
religion. Leaving the higher matter of eternal consequences 
between him and his Maker, I still do not think any man has the 
right thus to insult the feelings, and injure the morals, of the 
community in which he may live. If, then, I was guilty of such 
conduct, I should blame no man who should condemn me for 
it; but I do blame those, whoever they may be, who falsely put 
such a charge in circulation against me. 

31st July 1846. A.Lincoln. 

From a letter to Joshua F. Speed. 

Springfield, 22nd October 1846. 

... I should be much pleased to see you here again; but I 
must, in candour, say I do not perceive how your personal 
presence would do any good in the business matter. 

1 The charge was circulated by Lincoln's Democratic opponent, Peter 
Cartwright, famed as a Methodist circuit-rider. 


You, no doubt, assign the suspension of our correspondence 
to the true philosophical cause, though it must be confessed, by 
both of us, that this is rather a cold reason for allowing a friend- 
ship such as ours, to die by degrees. I propose now that, on 
the receipt of this, you shall be considered in my debt, and under 
obligation to pay soon, and that neither shall remain long in 
arrears hereafter. Are you agreed? 

Being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our 
friends for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I 

We have another boy, born the 10th of March last. 1 He is 
very much such a child as Bob was at his age — rather of a longer 
order. Bob is 'short and low,' and, I expect, always will be. 
He talks very plainly — almost as plainly as anybody. He is 
quite smart enough. I sometimes fear he is one of the little 
rare-ripe sort, that are smarter at about five than ever after. 
He has a great deal of that sort of mischief that is the offspring 
of much animal spirits. Since I began this letter a messenger 
came to tell me Bob was lost; but by the time I reached the house, 
his mother had found him, and had him whipped — and, by now, 
very likely he is run away again. 

Mary has read your letter, and wishes to be remembered to Mrs 
S. and you, in which I most sincerely join her. As ever Yours 

The lone Whig Representative from Illinois to his law partner. 2 

Washington, 8th January 1848. 

Dear William : Your letter of 27th December was received a 
day or two ago. I am much obliged to you for the trouble you 
have taken, and promise to take in my little business there. As 
to speech-making, by way of getting the hang of the House I 
made a little speech two or three days ago on a post-office 
question of no general interest. I find speaking here and else- 
where about the same thing. I was about as badly scared, and 
no worse, as I am when I speak in court. I expect to make 
one within a week or two, in which I hope to succeed well enough 
to wish you to see it. 

1 Edward Baker Lincoln, who died 1st February 1850 

2 Lincoln had formed a partnership with William H. Herndon in 
December 1844. 


It is very pleasant to learn from you that there are some who 
desire that I should be re-elected. I most heartily thank them 
for their kind partiality; and I can say, as Mr Clay said of the 
annexation of Texas, that 'personally I would not object' to a 
re-election, although I thought at the time, and still think, it 
would be quite as well for me to return to the law at the end of a 
single term. I made the declaration that I would not be a candi- 
date again, more from a wish to deal fairly with others, to keep 
peace among our friends, and to keep the district from going 
to the enemy, than for any cause personal to myself; so that, 
if it should so happen that nobody else wishes to be elected, I 
could not refuse the people the right of sending me again. But 
to enter myself as a competitor of others, or to authorize anyone 
so to enter me, is what my word and honour forbid. 

I got some letters intimating a probability of so much difficulty 
amongst our friends as to lose us the district; but I remember 
such letters were written to Baker when my own case was under 
consideration, and I trust there is no more ground for such 
apprehension now than there was then. Remember I am always 
glad to receive a letter from you. Most truly your friend 

From a letter to Usher F. Linder, an Illinois Whig who had 
criticized Lincoln for opposing the Mexican War. 

Washington, 22nd March 1848. 

. . . Towards the close of your letter you ask three questions, 
the first of which is 'Would it not have been just as easy to have 
elected Genl. Taylor without opposing the war as by opposing 
it?' I answer, I suppose it would, if we could do neither — could 
be silent on the question; but the Locofocos 1 here will not let the 
Whigs be silent. Their very first act in congress was to present 
a preamble declaring that war existed by the act of Mexico, and 
the Whigs were obliged to vote on it — and this policy is followed 
up by them; so that they are compelled to speak and their only 
option is whether they will, when they do speak, tell the truth, or 
tell a foul, villainous, and bloody falsehood. But, while on this 
point, I protest against your calling the condemnation of Polk 
' opposing the war.' In thus assuming that all must be opposed 

1 A slang term applied to the Democratic party by its opponents. 


to the war, even though they vote supplies, who do not endorse 
Polk, with due deference I say I think you fall into one of the 
artfully set traps of Locofocoism. 

Your next question is 'And suppose we could succeed in 
proving it a wicked and unconstitutional war, do we not thereby 
strip Taylor and Scott of more than half their laurels ? ' Whether 
it would so strip them is not matter of demonstration, but of 
opinion only; and my opinion is that it would not; but as your 
opinion seems to be different, let us call in some others as 
umpire. There are in this H. R. 1 some more than forty members 
who support Genl. Taylor for the Presidency, every one of whom 
has voted that the war was ' unnecessarily and unconstitutionally 
commenced by the President,' every one of whom has spoken 
to the same effect, who has spoken at all, and not one of whom 
supposes he thereby strips Genl. [Taylor] of any laurels. More 
than this: two of these, Col. Haskell and Major Gaines, them- 
selves fought in Mexico ; and yet they vote and speak just as the 
rest of us do, without ever dreaming that they 'strip' themselves 
of any laurels. There may be others, but Capt. Bishop is the 
only intelligent Whig who has been to Mexico that 1 have heard 
of taking different ground. 

Your third question is 'And have we as a party, ever gained 
anything by falling in company with abolitionists?' Yes. We 
gained our only national victory by falling inpompany with them 
in the election of Genl. Harrison. Not that we fell into abolition 
doctrines; but that we took up a man whose position induced 
them to join us in his election. But this question is not so signifi- 
cant as a question, as it is as a charge of abolitionism against 
those who have chosen to speak their minds against the President. 
As you and I perhaps would again differ as to the justice of this 
charge, let us once more call in our umpire. There are in this 
H. R. Whigs from the slave states as follows : one from Louisiana, 
one from Mississippi, one from Florida, two from Alabama, 
four from Georgia, five from Tennessee, six from Kentucky, six 
from North Carolina, six from Virginia, four from Maryland, 
and one from Delaware, making thirty-seven in all, and all 
slave-holders, every one of whom votes the commencement of 
the war 'unnecessary and unconstitutional' and so falls subject 
to your charge of abolitionism! . . . Very respectfully 
1 House of Representatives of U.S. Congress. 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 37 

To Mary Todd Lincoln, visiting her family in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Washington, 16th April 1848. 

Dear Mary: In this troublesome world we are never quite 
satisfied. When you were here, I thought you hindered me some 
in attending to business ; but now, having nothing but business — 
no variety — it has grown exceedingly tasteless to me. I hate to 
sit down and direct documents, and I hate to stay in this old room 
by myself. You know I told you in last Sunday's letter, I was 
going to make a little speech during the week ; but the week has 
passed away without my getting a chance to do so ; and now my 
interest in the subject has passed away too. Your second and 
third letters have been received since I wrote before. Dear 
Eddy thinks father is 'gone tapila.' 1 Has any further discovery 
been made as to the breaking into your grandmother's house? 
If I were she, I would not remain there alone. You mention 
that your uncle John Parker is likely to be at Lexington. Don't 
forget to present him my very kindest regards. 

I went yesterday to hunt the little plaid stockings, as you 
wished ; but found that McKnight has quit business, and Allen had 
not a single pair of the description you give, and only one plaid 
pair of any sort that I thought would fit 'Eddy's dear little feet.' 
I have a notion to make another trial to-morrow morning. If I 
could get them, I have an excellent chance of sending them. Mr 
Warrick Tunstall of St Louis is here. He is to leave early this 
week, and to go by Lexington. He says he knows you, and will 
call to see you; and he voluntarily asked if I had not some 
package to send to you. 

I wish you to enjoy yourself in every possible way; but is there 
no danger of wounding the feelings of your good father by being 
so openly intimate with the Wickcliffe family? 

Mrs Broome has not removed yet; but she thinks of doing so 
to-morrow. All the house — or rather, all with whom you were 
on decided good terms — send their love to you. The others say 

Very soon after you went away, I got what I think a very pretty 
set of shirt-bosom studs — modest little ones, jet, set in gold, only 
costing 50 cents apiece, or $1 .50 for the whole. 

Suppose you do not prefix the 'Hon.' to the address on your 
1 Probably a child's attempt to say 'to the capitol.' 


letters to me any more. I like the letters very much, but I would 
rather they should not have that upon them. It is not necessary, 
as I suppose you have thought, to have them to come free. 

And you are entirely free from headache? That is good — 
good — considering it is the first spring you have been free from 
it since we were acquainted. I am afraid you will get so well, 
and fat, and young, as to be wanting to marry again. Tell 
Louisa I want her to watch you a little for me. Get weighed, 
and write me how much you weigh. 

I did not get rid of the impression of that foolish dream about 
dear Bobby till I got your letter written the same day. What did 
he and Eddy think of the little letters father sent them? Don't 
let the blessed fellows forget father. 

A day or two ago Mr Strong, here in Congress, said to me that 
Matilda would visit here within two or three weeks. Suppose 
you write her a letter, and enclose it in one of mine; and if she 
comes I will deliver it to her, and if she does not, I will send it to 
her. Most affectionately 

To Mary Todd Lincoln. 

Washington, 12th June 1848. 

My dear wife: On my return from Philadelphia, yesterday, 
where, in my anxiety, I had been led to attend the Whig con- 
vention, I found your last letter. I was so tired and sleepy, 
having ridden all night, that 1 could not answer it till to-day ; and 
now I have to do so in the H. R. The leading matter in your 
letter is your wish to return to this side of the mountains. Will 
you be a good girl in all things, if I consent? Then come along, 
and that as soon as possible. Having got the idea in my head, 
I shall be impatient till I see you. You will not have money 
enough to bring you ; but I presume your uncle will supply you, 
and I will refund him here. By the way, you do not mention 
whether you have received the fifty dollars I sent you. I do not 
much fear but that you got it because the want of it would have 
induced you to say something in relation to it. If your uncle is 
already at Lexington, you might induce him to start on earlier 
than the first of July; he could stay in Kentucky longer on his 
return, and so make up for lost time. Since I began this letter, 
the H. R. has passed a resolution for adjourning on the 17th 


July, which probably will pass the Senate. I hope this letter 
will not be disagreeable to you ; which, together with the circum- 
stances under which I write, I hope will excuse me for not writing 
a longer one. Come on just as soon as you can. I want to see 
you, and our dear — dear boys very much. Everybody here 
wants to see our dear Bobby. Affectionately 

To William H. Herndon: a letter from a man ''old 9 at the age of 

Washington, 10th July 1848. 

Dear William: Your letter covering the newspaper slips was 
received last night. The subject of that letter is exceedingly 
painful to me; and I cannot but think there is some mistake in 
your impression of the motives of the old men. I suppose I am 
now one of the old men — and I declare on my veracity, which I 
think is good with you, that nothing could afford me more 
satisfaction than to learn that you and others of my young 
friends at home were doing battle in the contest, and endearing 
themselves to the people, and taking a stand far above any I have 
ever been able to reach, in their admiration. I cannot conceive 
that other old men feel differently. Of course I cannot demon- 
strate what I say ; but I was young once, and I am sure I was never 
ungenerously thrust back. I hardly know what to say. The 
way for a young man to rise is to improve himself every way he 
can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to hinder him. Allow 
me to assure you that suspicion and jealousy never did help 
any man in any situation. There may sometimes be ungenerous 
attempts to keep a young man down; and they will succeed too 
if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel to brood 
over the attempted injury. Cast about, and see if this feeling 
has not injured every person you have ever known to fall into it. 

Now, in what I have said, I am sure you will suspect nothing 
but sincere friendship. I would save you from a fatal error. 
You have been a laborious studious young man. You are far 
better informed on almost all subjects than I have ever been. 
You cannot fail in any laudable object, unless you allow your 
mind to be improperly directed. I have some the advantage of 
you in the world's experience, merely by being older; and it is 
this that induces me to advise. . . . Your friend, as ever 

40 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

From a speech ridiculing Lewis Cass, of Michigan, Democratic 
candidate for the Presidency. In the House of Representatives. 

27th July 1848. 

. . . But in my hurry I was very near closing on the subject of 
military tails before I was done with it. There is one entire 
article of the sort I have not discussed yet; I mean the military 
tail you Democrats are now engaged in dovetailing on to the 
great Michigander. Yes sir, all his biographers (and they are 
legion) have him in hand, tying him to a military tail, like so 
many mischievous boys tying a dog to a bladder of beans. True, 
the material they have is very limited; but they drive at it, might 
and main. He wvaded Canada without resistance, and he 
ow/vaded it without pursuit. As he did both under orders, I 
suppose there was, to him, neither credit or discredit in them; 
but they are made to constitute a large part of the tail. He was 
not at Hull's surrender, but he was close by; he was volunteer 
aid to Gen. Harrison on the day of the Battle of the Thames; 
and, as you said in 1 840, Harrison was picking huckleberries two 
miles off while the battle was fought, I suppose it is a just con- 
clusion with you to say Cass was aiding Harrison to pick huckle- 
berries. This is about all, except the mooted question of the 
broken sword. Some authors say he broke it, some say he 
threw it away, and some others who ought to know, say nothing 
about it. Perhaps it would be a fair historical compromise to 
say, if he did not break it he didn't do anything else with it. 

By the way, Mr Speaker, did you know I am a military hero? 
Yes sir; in the days of the Black Hawk war, I fought, bled, and 
came away. Speaking of Gen. Cass's career reminds me of my 
own. 1 was not at Stillman's defeat, but I was about as near it as 
Cass was to Hull's surrender; and, like him, I saw the place very 
soon afterwards. It is quite certain I did not break my sword, 
for I had none to break ; but I bent a musket pretty badly on one 
occasion. If Cass broke his sword, the idea is, he broke it in 
desperation ; I bent the musket by accident. If Gen. Cass went 
in advance of me in picking huckleberries, I guess I surpassed him 
in charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live, fighting 
Indians, it was more than I did ; but I had a good many bloody 
struggles with the mosquitoes; and, although I never fainted 
from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry. 


Mr Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff whatever our 
Democratic friends may suppose there is of black cockade 
Federalism about me, and thereupon they shall take me up as 
their candidate for the Presidency, I protest they shall not make 
fun of me, as they have of Gen. Cass, by attempting to write me 
into a military hero. 

To John D. Johnston, Lincoln's stepbrother. 

Washington, 24th December 1848. 

Dear Johnston : Your request for eighty dollars, I do not think 
it best to comply with now. At the various times when I have 
helped you a little, you have said to me 'We can get along very 
well now' but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty 
again. Now this can only happen by some defect in your con- 
duct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are not lazy, 
and still you are an idler. I doubt whether since I saw you, you 
have done a good whole day's work, in any one day. You do 
not very much dislike to work; and still you do not work much, 
merely because it does not seem to you that you could get much 
for it. This habit of uselessly wasting time is the whole difficulty ; 
and it is vastly important to you, and still more so to your 
children, that you should break this habit. It is more important 
to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an 
idle habit before they are in it, easier than they can get out after 
they are in. 

You are now in need of some ready money ; and what I propose 
is, that you shall go to work 'tooth and nails' for somebody who 
will give you money for it. Let father and your boys take charge 
of things at home — prepare for a crop, and make the crop ; and 
you go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any 
debt you owe, that you can get. And to secure you a fair 
reward for your labour, I now promise you that for every dollar 
you will, between this and the first of next May, get for your own 
labour, either in money or in your own indebtedness, I will then 
give you one other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten 
dollars a month, from me you will get ten more, making twenty 
dollars a month for your work. In this I do not mean you shall 
go off to St Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold mines, in 


California, but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages you 
can get close to home in Coles county. Now if you will do this, 
you will soon be out of debt, and what is better, you will have a 
habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But if I 
should now clear you out, next year you will be just as deep in 
as ever. You say you would almost give your place in heaven 
for $70 or $80. Then you value your place in heaven very 
cheaply for I am sure you can with the offer 1 make you get the 
seventy or eighty dollars for four or five months' work. You say 
if I furnish you the money you will deed me the land, and, if you 
don't pay the money back, you will deliver possession. Non- 
sense! If you can't now live with the land, how will you then 
live without it? You have always been kind to me, and I do 
not now mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you will 
but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than eight times 
eighty dollars to you. Affectionately your brother 

To William B. Warren and others, Illinois Whigs. 

Springfield, 7th April 1849. 

Gentlemen: In answer to your note concerning the General 
Land-Office I have to say that if the office can be secured to 
Illinois by my consent to accept it, and not otherwise, I give that 
consent. Some months since I gave my word to secure the 
appointment to that office of Mr Cyrus Edwards, if in my power, 
in case of a vacancy ; and more recently 1 stipulated with Col. 
Baker that if Mr Edwards and Col. J. L. D. Morrison could 
arrange with each other for one of them to withdraw, we would 
jointly recommend the other. In relation to these pledges, I 
must not only be chaste but above suspicion. If the office shall 
be tendered to me, I must be permitted to say 'Give it to Mr 
Edwards, or, if so agreed by them, to Col. Morrison, and I 
decline it; if not, I accept.' With this understanding, you are at 
liberty to procure me the offer of the appointment if you can; and 
I shall feel complimented by your effort, and still more by its 
success. It should not be overlooked that Col. Baker's position 
entitles him to a large share of control in this matter; however, 
one of your number, Col. Warren, knows that Baker has at all 
times been ready to recommend me, if I would consent. It must 


also be understood that if at any time, previous to an appoint- 
ment being made, I shall learn that Mr Edwards and Col. 
Morrison have agreed, I shall at once carry out my stipulation 
with Col. Baker, as above stated. Yours truly 

To Joseph Gillespie, a Whig lawyer of Edwardsville, Illinois. 

Springfield, 13th July 1849. 

Dear Gillespie: Mr Edwards x is unquestionably offended with 
me in connection with the matter of the General Land-Office. 
He wrote a letter against me, which was filed at the Department. 
The better part of one's life consists of his friendships; and, of 
these, mine with Mr Edwards was one of the most cherished. I 
have not been false to it. At a word, I could have had the office 
any time before the Department was committed to Mr Butterfield 
— at least Mr Ewing and the President say as much. That word 
I forebore to speak, partly for other reasons, but chiefly for Mr 
Edwards's sake. Losing the office that he might gain it, I was 
always for; but to lose his friendship by the effort for him would 
oppress me very much, were I not sustained by the utmost 
consciousness of rectitude. I first determined to be an applicant, 
unconditionally, on the 2nd of June; and I did so then upon 
being informed by a telegraphic dispatch that the question was 
narrowed down to Mr B. and myself, and that the Cabinet had 
postponed the appointment three weeks for my benefit. Not 
doubting that Mr Edwards was wholly out of the question, 1 
nevertheless would not then have become an applicant had I 
supposed he would thereby be brought to suspect me of treachery 
to him. Two or three days afterwards a conversation with Levi 
Davis convinced me Mr E. was dissatisfied; but I was then too 
far in to get out. His own letter, written on the 25th of April, 
after I had fully informed him of all that had passed up to within 
a few days of that time, gave assurance I had that entire con- 
fidence from him which I felt my uniform and strong friendship 
i for him entitled me to. Among other things it says 'whatever 
course your judgment may dictate as proper to be pursued, shall 
never be excepted to by me.' I also had had a letter from 
Washington, saying Chambers of the Republican had brought 

1 Cyrus Edwards, of Edwardsville, Illinois. 


a rumour then that Mr E. had declined in my favour, which 
rumour I judged came from Mr E. himself, as I had not then 
breathed of his letter to any living creature. 

In saying I had never before the 2nd of June determined to be 
an applicant unconditionally, I mean to admit that before then 
I had said substantially I would take the office rather than it 
should be lost to the state, or given to one in the state whom the 
Whigs did not want; but I aver that in every instance in which I 
spoke of myself, I intended to keep, and now believe I did keep, 
Mr E. ahead of myself. Mr Edwards's first suspicion was that I 
had allowed Baker to overreach me, as his friend, in behalf of 
Don. Morrison. I knew this was a mistake; and the result has 
proved it. I understand his view now is that if I had gone to open 
war with Baker I could have ridden him down, and had the thing 
all my own way. I believe no such thing. With Baker and some 
strong men from the Military tract, and elsewhere for Morrison; 
and we and some strong men from the Wabash and elsewhere for 
Mr E., it was not possible for either to succeed. I believed this 
in March, and I know it now. The only thing which gave either 
any chance was the very thing Baker and I proposed — an adjust- 
ment with themselves. 

You may wish to know how Butterfield finally beat me. I 
cannot tell you particulars now, but will when I see you. In the 
meantime let it be understood I am not greatly dissatisfied. I 
wish the office had been so bestowed as to encourage our friends 
in future contests, and I regret exceedingly Mr Edwards's feelings 
towards me. These two things away, I should have no regrets — 
at least I think I would not. 

Write me soon. Your friend, as ever 

To George W. Rives, of Edgar County, Illinois, a disgruntled 

Springfield, 15th December 1849. 

Dear Sir : On my return from Kentucky I found your letter of 
the 7th of November, and have delayed answering it till now for 
the reason I now briefly state. From the beginning of our 
acquaintance I had felt the greatest kindness for you, and had 
supposed it was reciprocated on your part. Last summer, 
under circumstances which I mentioned to you, I was painfully 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 45 

constrained to withhold a recommendation which you desired; 
and shortly afterwards I learned, in such way as to believe it, that 
you were indulging open abuse of me. Of course my feelings 
were wounded. On receiving your last letter, the question 
occurred whether you were attempting to use me, at the same 
time you would injure me, or whether you might not have been 
misrepresented to me. If the former, I ought not to answer you; 
if the latter I ought, and so I have remained in suspense. I now 
enclose you a letter which you may use if you think fit. Yours etc. 

To Abram Bale, of Petersburg, Illinois. 

Springfield, 22nd February 1850. 

Dear Sir: I understand Mr Hickox will go, or send to Peters- 
burg to-morrow, for the purpose of meeting you to settle the 
difficulty about the wheat. I sincerely hope you will settle it. I 
think you can if you will, for I have always found Mr Hickox a 
fair man in his dealings. If you settle, I will charge nothing for 
what I have done, and thank you to boot. By settling, you will 
most likely get your money sooner; and with much less trouble 
and expense. Yours truly 

Notes for a law lecture. 

[1st July 1850?] 

I am not an accomplished lawyer. I find quite as much 

material for a lecture in those points wherein I have failed, as in 

'those wherein I have been moderately successful. The leading 

i rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is 

s diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done 

\ to-day. Never let your correspondence fall behind. Whatever 

piece of business you have in hand, before stopping, do all the 

labour pertaining to it which can then be done. When you 

bring a common-law suit, if you have the facts for doing so, 

write the declaration at once. If a law point be involved, 

examine the books and note the authority you rely on upon the 

declaration itself, where you are sure to find it when wanted. 

The same of defences and pleas. In business not likely to be 

litigated — ordinary collection cases, foreclosures, partitions, and 


the like — make all examinations of titles and note them, and even 
draft orders and decrees in advance. This course has a triple 
advantage; it avoids omissions and neglect, saves your labour 
when once done, performs the labour out of court when you have 
leisure, rather than in court when you have not. Extempor- 
aneous speaking should be practised and cultivated. It is the 
lawyer's avenue to the public. However able and faithful he 
may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business 
if he cannot make a speech. And yet there is not a more fatal 
error to young lawyers than relying too much on speech-making. 
If anyone, upon his rare powers of speaking, shall claim an 
exemption from the drudgery of the law, his case is a failure in 

Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbours to com- 
promise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal 
winner is often a real loser — in fees, expenses, and waste of time. 
As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being 
a good man. There will still be business enough. 

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found 
than one who does this. Who can be more nearly a fiend than 
he who habitually overhauls the register of deeds in search of 
defects in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his 
pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession 
which should drive such men out of it. 

The matter of fees is important, far beyond the mere question 
of bread and butter involved. Properly attended to, fuller 
justice is done to both lawyer and client. An exorbitant fee 
should never be claimed. As a general rule never take your 
whole fee in advance, nor any more than a small retainer. When 
fully paid beforehand, you are more than a common mortal if 
you can feel the same interest in the case, as if something was still 
in prospect for you, as well as for your client. And when you 
lack interest in the case the job will very likely lack skill and 
diligence in the performance. Settle the amount of fee and take 
a note in advance. Then you will feel that you are working for 
something, and you are sure to do your work faithfully and well. 
Never sell a fee note — at least not before the consideration service 
is performed. It leads to negligence and dishonesty — negligence 
by losing interest in the case, and dishonesty in refusing to refund 
when you have allowed the consideration to fail. 


There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily 
dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what 
extent confidence and honours are reposed in and conferred 
upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their 
impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the 
impression is common, almost universal. Let no young man 
choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular 
belief — resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own 
judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest 
without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation rather 
than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent 
to be a knave. 

To John D. Johnston, stepbrother. 

Springfield, 12th January 1851. 

Dear Brother : On the day before yesterday I received a letter 
from Harriett, written at Greenup. She says she has just 
returned from your house; and that Father is very low and will 
hardly recover. She also says you have written me two letters; 
and that, although you do not expect me to come now, you 
wonder that I do not write. I received both your letters, and 
although I have not answered them, it is not because I have 
forgotten them or been uninterested about them — but because it 
appeared to me I could write nothing which could do any good. 
You already know I desire that neither Father or Mother shall be 
in want of any comfort either in health or sickness while they 
live; and I feel sure you have not failed to use my name, if 
necessary, to procure a doctor, or anything else for Father in his 
present sickness. My business is such that I could hardly leave 
home now, if it were not, as it is, that my own wife is sick abed. 
(It is a case of baby-sickness, and I suppose is not dangerous.) 
I sincerely hope Father may yet recover his health; but at all 
events tell him to remember to call upon, and confide in, our 
great, and good, and merciful Maker, who will not turn away 
from him in any extremity. He notes the fall of a sparrow, and 
numbers the hairs of our heads ; and He will not forget the dying 
man, who puts his trust in Him. Say to him that if we could 
meet now, it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful 


than pleasant; but that if it be his lot to go now, he will soon 
have a joyous meeting with many loved ones gone before; and 
where the rest of us, through the help of God, hope ere long to 
join them. 1 

Write me again when you receive this. Affectionately 

From a letter to John D. Johnston. 

Springfield, 4th November 1851. 

Dear Brother : When I came into Charleston day before yester- 
day I learned that you are anxious to sell the land where you live 
and move to Missouri. 1 have been thinking of this ever since ; 
and cannot but think such a notion is utterly foolish. What can 
you do in Missouri better than here? Is the land any richer? 
Can you there, any more than here, raise corn, and wheat and 
oats, without work? Will anybody there, any more than here, 
do your work for you? If you intend to go to work, there is no 
better place than right where you are; if you do not intend to 
go to work, you cannot get along anywhere. Squirming and 
crawling about from place to place can do no good. You have 
raised no crop this year, and what you really want is to sell the 
land, get the money and spend it — part with the land you have, 
and my life upon it, you will never after own a spot big enough to 
bury you in. Half you will get for the land you spend in moving 
to Missouri, and the other half you will eat and drink, and wear 
out, and no foot of land will be bought. Now I feel it is my duty 
to have no hand in such a piece of foolery. I feel that it is so 
even on your own account; and particularly on Mother's account. 
The eastern forty acres I intend to keep for Mother while she 
lives — if you will not cultivate it; it will rent for enough to 
support her — at least it will rent for something. Her dower in 
the other two forties she can let you have, and no thanks to me. 

Now do not misunderstand this letter. I do not write it in 
any unkindness. I write it in order, if possible, to get you to 
face the truth — which truth is, you are destitute because you have 
idled away all your time. Your thousand pretences for not 
getting along better are all nonsense — they deceive nobody but 
yourself. Go to work is the only cure for your case. . . . 

1 Thomas Lincoln died in Coles County, Illinois, on 15th January 1851. 


To Charles R. Welles: a letter in behalf of William Florville, 
Lincoln's Negro barber. 

Bloomington, Illinois, 27th September 1852. 

Dear Sir: 1 am in a little trouble here. I am trying to get a 
decree for our 'Billy the Barber' for the conveyance of certain 
town lots sold to him by Allen, Gridly & Prickett. I made you a 
party, as administrator of Prickett, but the Clerk omitted to put 
your name in the writ, and so you are not served. Billy will 
blame me if I do not get the thing fixed up this time. If, there- 
fore, you will be so kind as to sign the authority below and send 
it to me by return mail, I shall be greatly obliged, and will be 
careful that you shall not be involved, or your rights invaded by 
it. Yours as ever 

Fragment on government. 

[1st July 1854?] 

Government is a combination of the people of a country to 
effect certain objects by joint effort. The best framed and best 
administered governments are necessarily expensive; while by 
errors in frame and maladministration most of them are more 
onerous than they need be, and some of them very oppressive. 
Why, then, should we have government? Why not each indivi- 
dual take to himself the whole fruit of his labour, without having 
any of it taxed away, in services, corn, or money? Why not take 
just so much land as he can cultivate with his own hands, without 
buying it of anyone? 

The legitimate object of government is ' to do for the people 
what needs to be done, but which they cannot, by individual 
effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves.' There are many 
such things — some of them exist independently of the injustice 
in the world. Making and maintaining roads, bridges, and the 
like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common 
schools; and disposing of deceased men's property, are instances. 

But a far larger class of objects springs from the injustice of 

men. If one people will make war upon another, it is a necessity 

with that other to unite and co-operate for defence. Hence the 

military department. If some men will kill, or beat, or constrain 



others, or despoil them of property, by force, fraud, or non- 
compliance with contracts, it is a common object with peaceful 
and just men to prevent it. Hence the criminal and civil depart- 

Fragment on slavery. 

[1st July 1854?] 

If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, 
enslave B. — why may not B. snatch the same argument, and 
prove equally that he may enslave A? 

You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is colour, then; the 
lighter having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By 
this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet with a 
fairer skin than your own. 

You do not mean colour exactly? You mean the whites are 
intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and therefore have the 
right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are 
to be slave to the first man you meet with an intellect superior to 
your own. 

But, say you, it is a question of interest', and, if you can make 
it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very 
well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to 
enslave you. 

To John M. Palmer, a Democrat disturbed by his party's sponsor- 
ship of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. 

Springfield, 7th September 1854. 

Dear Sir: You know how anxious I am that this Nebraska 
measure shall be rebuked and condemned everywhere. Of 
course I hope something from your position ; yet I do not expect 
you to do anything which may be wrong in your own judgment; 
nor would I have you do anything personally injurious to your- 
self. You are, and always have been, honestly and sincerely a 
democrat; and I know how painful it must be to an honest 
sincere man to be urged by his party to the support of a measure 
which on his conscience he believes to be wrong. You have had 
a severe struggle with yourself, and you have determined not to 


swallow the wrong. Is it not just to yourself that you should, in 
a few public speeches, state your reasons, and thus justify your- 
self? I wish you would; and yet I say 'don't do it if you think 
it will injure you.' You may have given your word to vote for 
Major Harris, 1 and if so, of course you will stick to it. But 
allow me to suggest that you should avoid speaking of this ; for 
it probably would induce some of your friends, in like manner, 
to cast their votes. You understand. And now let me beg 
your pardon for obtruding this letter upon you, to whom I have 
ever been opposed in politics. Had your party omitted to make 
Nebraska a test of party fidelity, you probably would have been 
the Democratic candidate for Congress in the district. You 
deserved it, and I believe it would have been given you. In that 
case I should have been quite happy that Nebraska was to be 
rebuked at all events. I still should have voted for the Whig 
candidate; but I should have made no speeches, written no letters; 
and you would have been elected by at least a thousand majority. 
Yours truly 

From a speech in reply to Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, 
sponsor and defender of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. 

Peoria, 16th October 1854. 

. . . We have before us the chief material enabling us to correctly 
judge whether the repeal of the Missouri Compromise 2 is right 
or wrong. 

I think, and shall try to show, that it is wrong; wrong in its 
direct effect, letting slavery into Kansas and Nebraska — and 
wrong in its prospective principle, allowing it to spread to every 
other part of the wide world, where men can be found inclined 
to take it. 

This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real zeal 
for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of 
the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it 
deprives our republican example of its just influence in the 

1 Thomas L. Harris, Democratic candidate for Congress. 

2 The Kansas-Nebraska Act specifically repealed the Missouri Com- 
promise (1820), by which, after the admission of Missouri as a state, 
slavery was to be prohibited in the remainder of the Louisiana Purchase 
north of the line of 36° 30'. 

52 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

world — enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, 
to taunt us as hypocrites — causes the real friends of freedom to 
doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many 
really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the 
very fundamental principles of civil liberty — criticizing the 
Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right 
principle of action but self-interest. 

Before proceeding, let me say I think I have no prejudice against 
the southern people. They are just what we would be in their 
situation. If slavery did not now exist amongst them, they 
would not introduce it. If it did now exist amongst us, we 
should not instantly give it up. This I believe of the masses 
north and south. Doubtless there are individuals, on both 
sides, who would not hold slaves under any circumstances ; and 
others who would gladly introduce slavery anew, if it were out 
of existence. We know that some southern men do free their 
slaves, go north, and become tip-top abolitionists; while some 
northern ones go south, and become most cruel slave-masters. 

When southern people tell us they are no more responsible for 
the origin of slavery than we, I acknowledge the fact. When it 
is said that the institution exists, and that it is very difficult to 
get rid of* it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and 
appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not 
doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly 
power were given me, I should not know what to do as to the 
existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the 
slaves and send them to Liberia — to their own native land. But 
a moment's reflection would convince me that whatever of high 
hope (as I think there is) there may be in this in the long run, its 
sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in 
a day, they would all perish in the next ten days; and there are 
not surplus shipping and surplus money enough in the world to 
carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free 
them all, and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite 
certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not 
hold one in slavery, at any rate; yet the point is not clear enough 
for me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them, and 
make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings 
will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that 
those of the great mass of white people will not. Whether this 


feeling accords with justice and sound judgment is not the sole 
question, if indeed it is any part of it. A universal feeling, 
whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We 
cannot, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that 
systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted ; but for then- 
tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the 

When they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknow- 
ledge them, not grudgingly, but fully and fairly; and I would give 
them any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives, which 
should not, in its stringency, be more likely to carry a free man 
into slavery than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an 
innocent one. . . . 

Equal justice to the south, it is said, requires us to consent to 
the extending of slavery to new countries. That is to say, inas- 
much as you do not object to my taking my hog to Nebraska, 
therefore I must not object to you taking your slave. Now I 
admit this is perfectly logical if there is no difference between 
hogs and Negroes. But while you thus require me to deny the 
humanity of the Negro, I wish to ask whether you of the south 
yourselves have ever been willing to do as much? It is kindly 
provided that of all those who come into the world only a small 
percentage are natural tyrants. That percentage is no larger in 
the slave states than in the free. The great majority, south as 
well as north, have human sympathies, of which they can no 
more divest themselves than they can of their sensibility to physi- 
cal pain. These sympathies in the bosoms of the southern people 
manifest in many ways their sense of the wrong of slavery, and 
their consciousness that, after all, there is humanity in the 
Negro. If they deny this, let me address them a few plain 
questions. In 1820 you joined the north, almost unanimously, 
in declaring the African slave-trade piracy, and in annexing to it 
the punishment of death. Why did you do this? If you did 
not feel that it was wrong, why did you join in providing that 
men should be hung for it? The practice was no more than 
bringing wild Negroes from Africa, to sell to such as would buy 
them. But you never thought of hanging men for catching and 
selling wild horses, wild buffaloes, or wild bears. . . . 

But one great argument in the support of the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise is still to come. That argument is 'the 


sacred right of self-government.' It seems our distinguished 
Senator has found great difficulty in getting his antagonists, even 
in the Senate, to meet him fairly on this argument; some poet 
has said 

'Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.' 

At the hazard of being thought one of the fools of this quota- 
tion, I meet that argument — I rush in, I take that bull by the 

I trust I understand and truly estimate the right of self-govern- 
ment. My faith in the proposition that each should do precisely 
as he pleases with all which is exclusively his own, lies at the 
foundation of the sense of justice there is in me. I extend the 
principles to communities of men, as well as to individuals. I 
so extend it, because it is politically wise, as well as naturally 
just: politically wise in saving us from broils about matters 
which do not concern us. Here, or at Washington, I would not 
trouble myself with the oyster laws of Virginia, or the cranberry 
laws of Indiana. 

The doctrine of self-government is right — absolutely and 
eternally right — but it has no just application as here attempted. 
Or perhaps I should rather say that whether it has such just 
application depends upon whether a Negro is not or is a man. 
If he is not a man, why in that case he who is a man may, as a 
matter of self-government, do just as he pleases with him. But 
if the Negro is a man, is it not to that extent a total destruction 
of self-government to say that he too shall not govern himself *? 
When the white man governs himself that is self-government; 
but when he governs himself, and also governs another man, 
that is more than self-government — that is despotism. If the 
Negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that 'all 
men are created equal ' ; and that there can be no moral right in 
connection with one man's making a slave of another. 

Judge Douglas frequently, with bitter irony and sarcasm, 
paraphrases our argument by saying 'The white people of 
Nebraska are good enough to govern themselves, but they are 
not good enough to govern a few miserable negroes!' 

Well I doubt not that the people of Nebraska are, and will 
continue to be, as good as the average of people elsewhere. I 
do not say the contrary. What I do say is, that no man is good 
enough to govern another man, without that other's consent. I 


say this is the leading principle — the sheet anchor of American 
republicanism. Our Declaration of Independence says : 

'We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are 
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with 
certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and 
the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, govern- 
ments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers 


I have quoted so much at this time merely to show that 
according to our ancient faith the just powers of governments 
are derived from the consent of the governed. Now the relation 
of masters and slaves is, pro tanto, a total violation of this 
principle. The master not only governs the slave without his 
consent; but he governs him by a set of rules altogether different 
from those which he prescribes for himself. Allow all the 
governed an equal voice in the government, and that, and that 
only, is self-government. . . . 

The Missouri Compromise ought to be restored. For the 
sake of the Union, it ought to be restored. We ought to elect a 
House of Representatives which will vote its restoration. If by 
any means we omit to do this, what follows? Slavery may or 
may not be established in Nebraska. But whether it be or not, 
we shall have repudiated — discarded from the councils of the 
Nation — the Spirit of Compromise', for who after this will ever 
trust in a national compromise? The spirit of mutual concession 
— that spirit which first gave us the constitution, and which has 
thrice saved the Union — we shall have strangled and cast from us 
forever. And what shall we have in lieu of it? The South 
flushed with triumph and tempted to excesses; the North, 
betrayed, as they believe, brooding on wrong and burning for 
revenge. One side will provoke; the other resent. The one 
will taunt, the other defy; one aggresses, the other retaliates. 
Already a few in the North defy all constitutional restraints, 
resist the execution of the fugitive slave law, and even menace 
the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. 

Already a few in the South claim the constitutional right to 
take to and hold slaves in the free states — demand the revival of 
the slave trade; and demand a treaty with Great Britain by which 
fugitive slaves may be reclaimed from Canada. As yet they are 
but few on either side. It is a grave question for the lovers of 


the Union, whether the final destruction of the Missouri Com- 
promise, and with it the spirit of all compromise, will or will not 
embolden and embitter each of these, and fatally increase the 
numbers of both. 

But restore the compromise, and what then? We thereby 
restore the national faith, the national confidence, the national 
feeling of brotherhood. We thereby reinstate the spirit of 
concession and compromise — that spirit which has never failed 
us in past perils, and which may be safely trusted for all the 
future. The South ought to join in doing this. The peace of 
the nation is as dear to them as to us. In memories of the past 
and hopes of the future, they share as largely as we. It would be 
on their part a great act — great in its spirit, and great in its effect. 
It would be worth to the nation a hundred years' purchase of 
peace and prosperity. And what of sacrifice would they make? 
They only surrender to us what they gave us for a consideration 
long, long ago; what they have not now asked for, struggled or 
cared for; what has been thrust upon them, not less to their own 
astonishment than to ours. 

But it is said we cannot restore it; that though we elect every 
member of the lower house, the Senate is still against us. It is 
quite true, that of the senators who passed the Nebraska bill, a 
majority of the whole Senate will retain their seats in spite of the 
elections of this and the next year. But if at these elections, their 
several constituencies shall clearly express their will against 
Nebraska, will these senators disregard their will? Will they 
neither obey, nor make room for those who will? 

But even if we fail to technically restore the compromise, it is 
still a great point to carry a popular vote in favour of the restora- 
tion. The moral weight of such a vote cannot be estimated too 
highly. The authors of Nebraska are not at all satisfied with the 
destruction of the compromise — an endorsement of this principle, 
they proclaim to be the great object. With them, Nebraska 
alone is a small matter — to establish a principle, for future use, 
is what they particularly desire. 

That future use is to be the planting of slavery wherever in the 
wide world, local and unorganized opposition cannot prevent it. 
Now if you wish to give them this endorsement — if you wish to 
establish this principle — do so. I shall regret it; but it is your 
right. On the contrary, if you are opposed to the principle — 


intend to give it no such endorsement — let no wheedling, no 
sophistry, divert you from throwing a direct vote against it. 

Some men, mostly Whigs, who condemn the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise, nevertheless hesitate to go for its restora- 
tion, lest they be thrown in company with the abolitionist. Will 
they allow me as an old Whig to tell them good humouredly that 
I think this is very silly? Stand with anybody that stands right. 
Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes 
wrong. Stand with the abolitionist in restoring the Missouri 
Compromise; and stand against him when he attempts to repeal 
the fugitive slave law. In the latter case you stand with the 
southern disunionist. What of that? you are still right. In 
both cases you are right. In both cases you oppose the dan- 
gerous extremes. In both you stand on middle ground and hold 
the ship level and steady. In both you are national and nothing 
less than national. This is good old Whig ground. To desert 
such ground, because of any company, is to be less than a Whig — 
less than a man — less than an American. . . . 

Little by little, but steadily as man's march to the grave, we 
have been giving up the old for the new faith. Near eighty years 
ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but 
now from that beginning we have run down to the other declara- 
tion, that for some men to enslave others is a 'sacred right 
of self-government.' These principles cannot stand together. 
They are as opposite as God and mammon ; and whoever holds 
to the one must despise the other. When Pettit, in connection 
with his support of the Nebraska bill, called the Declaration of 
Independence 'a self-evident lie' he only did what consistency 
and candour require all other Nebraska men to do. Of the forty 
odd Nebraska senators who sat present and heard him, no one 
rebuked him. Nor am I apprised that any Nebraska newspaper, 
or any Nebraska orator, in the whole nation, has ever yet 
rebuked him. If this had been said among Marion's men, 
southerners though they were, what would have become of the 
man who said it? If this had been said to the men who captured 
Andre, 1 the man who said it would probably have been hung 

1 Major John Andre, adjutant-general of the British Army in North 
America during the Revolution, was the go-between between British 
headquarters and the American traitor, Benedict Arnold. Andre was 
captured in civilian clothes and hanged as a spy on 2nd October 1780. 
* /~.zo6 

58 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

sooner than Andre was. If it had been said in old Independence 
Hall, seventy-eight years ago, the very door-keeper would have 
throttled the man, and thrust him into the street. 

Let no one be deceived. The spirit of seventy-six and the 
spirit of Nebraska are utter antagonisms; and the former is being 
rapidly displaced by the latter. 

Fellow countrymen — Americans south, as well as north, shall 
we make no effort to arrest this? Already the Liberal party 
throughout the world express the apprehension 'that the one 
retrograde institution in America is undermining the principles 
of progress, and fatally violating the noblest political system the 
world ever saw.' This is not the taunt of enemies, but the 
warning of friends. Is it quite safe to disregard it — to despise it? 
Is there no danger to liberty itself in discarding the earliest 
practice and first precept of our ancient faith? In our greedy 
chase to make profit of the Negro, let us beware, lest we 'cancel 
and tear to pieces ' even the white man's charter of freedom. 

Our republican robe is soiled, and trailed in the dust. Let us 
repurify it. Let us turn and wash it white, in the spirit if not the 
blood of the Revolution. Let us turn slavery from its claims of 
'moral right,' back upon its existing legal rights, and its argu- 
ments of ' necessity.' Let us return it to the position our fathers 
gave it ; and there let it rest in peace. Let us readopt the Declara- 
tion of Independence, and with it the practices and policy which 
harmonize with it. Let north and south — let all Americans — 
let all lovers of liberty everywhere — join in the great and good 
work. If we do this, we shall not only have saved the Union; 
but we shall have so saved it as to make, and to keep it, forever 
worthy of the saving. We shall have so saved it that the suc- 
ceeding millions of free happy people, the world over, shall rise 
up and call us blessed, to the latest generations. . . . 

To Joseph Gillespie. 

Springfield, 1st December 1854. 

My dear Sir: I have really got it into my head to try to be 
United States Senator; and if I could have your support my 
chances would be reasonably good. But I know, and acknow- 
ledge, that you have as just claims to the place as I have; and 
therefore I do not ask you to yield to me, if you are thinking of 


becoming a candidate yourself. If, however, you are not, then 
I should like to be remembered affectionately by you ; and also, 
to have you make a mark for me with the Anti-Nebraska 
members, down your way. If you know, and have no objection 
to tell, let me know whether Trumbull intends to make a push. 
If he does, I suppose the two men in St Clair and one or both in 
Madison will be for him. 

We have the Legislature clearly enough on joint ballot; x but 
the Senate is very close; and Calhoun told me to-day that the 
Nebraska men will stave off the election if they can. Even if 
we get into joint vote, we shall have difficulty to unite our forces. 

Please write me, and let this be confidential. Your friend as 

From a letter to William H. Henderson, on being defeated for the 

Springfield, 21st February 1855. 

. . . The election is over, the session is ended, and I am not 
Senator. I have to content myself with the honour of having 
been the first choice of a large majority for the fifty-one members 
who finally made the election. My larger number of friends 
had to surrender to Trumbull's smaller number, in order to 
prevent the election of Matteson, which would have been a 
Douglas victory. 2 I started with 44 votes and T. with 5. It 
was rather hard for the 44 to have to surrender to the 5 — and a 
less good-humoured man than I, perhaps, would not have con- 
sented to it — and it would not have been done without my 
consent. I could not, however, let the whole political result go 
to ruin on a point merely personal to myself. 

Your son kindly and firmly stood by me from first to last; and 
for which he has my everlasting gratitude. Your friend as ever 

1 The reader must remember here, and in connection with Lincoln's 
campaign against Douglas in 1858, that prior to the adoption of the Seven- 
teenth Amendment in 1913 Senators were elected by state legislatures. 

2 Lyman Trumbull was an Anti-Nebraska Democrat; Joel A. Matteson, 
then Governor of Illinois, a Democrat who supported the Nebraska policy 
of his party. 


To George Robertson, professor of law in Transylvania College at 
Lexington, Kentucky. 

Springfield, 15th August 1855. 

My dear Sir : The volume you left for me has been received. 1 
am really grateful for the honour of your kind remembrance, as 
well as for the book. 1 The partial reading I have already given 
it has afforded me much of both pleasure and instruction. It 
was new to me that the exact question which led to the Missouri 
Compromise had arisen before it arose in regard to Missouri; 
and that you had taken so prominent a part in it. Your short 
but able and patriotic speech upon that occasion has not been 
improved upon since by those holding the same views; and, with 
all the lights you then had, the views you took appear to me as 
very reasonable. 

You are not a friend of slavery in the abstract. In that speech 
you spoke of 'the peaceful extinction of slavery' and used other 
expressions indicating your belief that the thing was, at some 
time, to have an end. Since then we have had thirty-six years of 
experience; and this experience has demonstrated, I think, that 
there is no peaceful extinction of slavery in prospect for us. The 
signal failure of Henry Clay and other good and great men, in 
1849, to effect anything in favour of gradual emancipation in 
Kentucky, together with a thousand other signs, extinguishes 
that hope utterly. On the question of liberty, as a principle, we 
are not what we have been. When we were the political slaves 
of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim 
that 'all men are created equal' a self-evident truth; but now 
when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves 
ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call 
the same maxim 'a self-evident lie.' The fourth of July has not 
quite dwindled away ; it is still a great day— for burning fire- 
crackers!! ! 

That spirit which desired the peaceful extinction of slavery has 
itself become extinct, with the occasion, and the men of the 
Revolution. Under the impulse of that occasion, nearly half 
the states adopted systems of emancipation at once ; and it is a 
significant fact that not a single state has done the like since. 

1 A collection of Robertson's speeches and papers entitled Scrap Book 
on Law and Politics, Men and Times. 


So far as peaceful, voluntary emancipation is concerned, the 
condition of the Negro slave in America, scarcely less terrible to 
the contemplation of a free mind, is now as fixed, and hopeless 
of change for the better, as that of the lost souls of the finally 
impenitent. The Autocrat of all the Russias will resign his 
crown and proclaim his subjects free republicans sooner than 
will our American masters voluntarily give up their slaves. 

Our political problem now is 'Can we, as a nation, continue 
together permanently— forever — half slave, and half free?' The 
problem is too mighty for me. May God, in his mercy, super- 
intend the solution. Your much obliged friend, and humble 

To Joshua F. Speed. 

Springfield, 24th August 1855. 

Dear Speed: You know what a poor correspondent I am. 
Ever since 1 received your very agreeable letter of the 22nd of 
May I have been intending to write you in answer to it. You 
suggest that in political action now, you and I would differ. I 
suppose we would; not quite as much, however, as you may 
think. You know I dislike slavery; and you fully admit the 
abstract wrong of it. So far there is no cause of difference. 
But you say that sooner than yield your legal right to the slave — 
especially at the bidding of those who are not themselves inter- 
ested — you would see the Union dissolved. I am not aware 
that anyone is bidding you to yield that right; very certainly / 
am not. I leave that matter entirely to yourself. I also acknow- 
ledge your rights and my obligations, under the constitution, in 
regard to your slaves. I confess I hate to see the poor creatures 
hunted down, and caught, and carried back to their stripes, and 
unrewarded toils; but I bite my lip and keep quiet. In 1841 you 
and I had together a tedious low-water trip on a steamboat from 
Louisville to St Louis. You may remember, as I well do, that 
from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio there were, on board, 
ten or a dozen slaves, shackled together with irons. That sight 
was a continual torment to me; 1 and I see something like it 
every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave-border. It is 

1 Compare this verdict with Lincoln's description of the same incident 
in his letter to Mary Speed, p. 13. 


hardly fair for you to assume that I have no interest in a thing 
which has, and continually exercises, the power of making me 
miserable. You ought rather to appreciate how much the great 
body of the northern people do crucify their feelings, in order to 
maintain their loyalty to the constitution and the Union. 

I do oppose the extension of slavery, because my judgment and 
feelings so prompt me; and I am under no obligation to the 
contrary. If for this you and I must differ, differ we must. You 
say if you were President, you would send an army and hang the 
leaders of the Missouri outrages upon the Kansas elections ; still, 
if Kansas fairly votes herself a slave state, she must be admitted, 
or the Union must be dissolved. But how if she votes herself a 
slave state unfairly — that is, by the very means for which you say 
you would hang men? Must she still be admitted, or the Union 
be dissolved? That will be the phase of the question when it 
first becomes a practical one. In your assumption that there 
may be a. fair decision of the slavery question in Kansas, I plainly 
see you and I would differ about the Nebraska law. I look upon 
that enactment not as a law, but as violence from the beginning. 
It was conceived in violence, passed in violence, is maintained in 
violence, and is being executed in violence. I say it was conceived 
in violence, because the destruction of the Missouri Compromise, 
under the circumstances, was nothing less than violence. It was 
passed in violence, because it could not have passed at all but for 
the votes of many members, in violent disregard of the known will 
of their constituents. It is maintained in violence because the 
elections since clearly demand its repeal, and this demand is 
openly disregarded. You say men ought to be hung for the way 
they are executing that law; and / say the way it is being executed 
is quite as good as any of its antecedents. It is being executed 
in the precise way which was intended from the first; else why 
does no Nebraska man express astonishment or condemnation? 
Poor Reeder is the only public man who has been silly enough to 
believe that anything like fairness was ever intended ; and he has 
been bravely undeceived. 

That Kansas will form a slave constitution, and, with it, will 
ask to be admitted into the Union, I take to be an already settled 
question; and so settled by the very means you so pointedly 
condemn. By every principle of law ever held by any court, 
north or south, every Negro taken to Kansas is free; yet in utter 


disregard of this — in the spirit of violence merely — that beautiful 
legislature gravely passes a law to hang men who shall venture 
to inform a Negro of his legal rights. This is the substance and 
real object of the law. If, like Haman, they should hang upon 
the gallows of their own building, I shall not be among the 
mourners for their fate. 

In my humble sphere I shall advocate the restoration of the 
Missouri Compromise, so long as Kansas remains a territory; 
and when, by all these foul means, it seeks to come into the 
Union as a slave-state, I shall oppose it. I am very loth, in any 
case, to withhold my assent to the enjoyment of property 
acquired, or located, in good faith; but I do not admit that good 
faith, in taking a Negro to Kansas, to be held in slavery, is a 
possibility with any man. Any man who has sense enough to 
be the controller of his own property has too much sense to 
misunderstand the outrageous character of this whole Nebraska 
business. But I digress. In my opposition to the admission of 
Kansas I shall have some company; but we may be beaten. If 
we are, I shall not, on that account, attempt to dissolve the 
Union. On the contrary, if we succeed, there will be enough of 
us to take care of the Union. I think it probable, however, we 
shall be beaten. Standing as a unit among yourselves, you can, 
directly and indirectly, bribe enough of our men to carry the day 
— as you could on an open proposition to establish monarchy. 
Get hold of some man in the north, whose position and ability 
is such that he can make the support of your measure — whatever 
it may be — a Democratic party necessity, and the thing is done. 
Apropos of this, let me tell you an anecdote. Douglas introduced 
the Nebraska bill in January. In February afterwards, there 
was a call session of the Illinois legislature. Of the one hundred 
members composing the two branches of that body, about 
seventy were Democrats. These latter held a caucus, in which 
the Nebraska bill was talked of, if not formally discussed. It 
was thereby discovered that just three, and no more, were in 
favour of the measure. In a day or two Douglas's orders came 
on to have resolutions passed approving the bill; and they were 
passed by large majorities!!! The truth of this is vouched for 
by a bolting Democratic member. The masses too, Democratic 
as well as Whig, were even nearer unanimous against it; but as 
soon as the party necessity of supporting it became apparent, 

64 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

the way the Democracy began to see the wisdom and justice of it 
was perfectly astonishing. 

You say if Kansas fairly votes herself a free state, as a Christian 
you will rather rejoice at it. All decent slave-holders talk that 
way; and I do not doubt their candour. But they never vote 
that way. Although in a private letter, or conversation, you will 
express your preference that Kansas shall be free, you would 
vote for no man for Congress who would say the same thing 
publicly. No such man could be elected from any district in 
any slave-state. You think Stringfellow and Co. ought to be 
hung; and yet, at the next presidential election, you will vote for 
the exact type and representative of Stringfellow. The slave- 
breeders and slave-traders are a small, odious, and detested class 
among you ; and yet in politics they dictate the course of all of 
you, and are as completely your masters as you are the masters 
of your own Negroes. 

You inquire where I now stand. That is a disputed point. I 
think I am a Whig; but others say there are no Whigs, and that 
I am an abolitionist. When I was at Washington I voted for the 
Wilmot Proviso as good as forty times, and I never heard of 
anyone attempting to unwhig me for that. I now do no more 
than oppose the extension of slavery. 

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I 
be? How can anyone who abhors the oppression of Negroes 
be in favour of degrading classes of white people? Our progress 
in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, 
we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.'' We now 
practically read it 'all men are created equal, except Negroes' 
When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are 
created equal, except Negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.'' 
When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country 
where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for 
instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the 
base alloy of hypocrisy. 

Mary will probably pass a day or two in Louisville in October. 
My kindest regards to Mrs Speed. On the leading subject of 
this letter, I have more of her sympathy than I have of yours. 

And yet let me say I am Your friend forever 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 65 

To Isham Reavis, on studying law. 

Springfield, 5th November 1855. 

My dear Sir: I have just reached home, and found your letter 
of the 23rd ult. I am from home too much of my time for a 
young man to read law with me advantageously. If you are 
resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is 
more than half done already. It is but a small matter whether 
you read with anybody or not. I did not read with anyone. 
Get the books, and read and study them till you understand them 
in their principal features; and that is the main thing. It is of 
no consequence to be in a large town while you are reading. I 
read at New Salem, which never had three hundred people living 
in it. The books, and your capacity for understanding them, are 
just the same in all places. Mr Dummer is a very clever man 
and an excellent lawyer (much better than I, in law-learning); 
and I have no doubt he will cheerfully tell you what books to 
read, and also loan you the books. 

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is 
more important than any other one thing. Very truly Your 

To George P. Floyd, hotel keeper ofQuincy, Illinois. 

Springfield, 21st February 1856. 

Dear Sir: I have just received yours of 16th, with check on 
Flagg and Savage for twenty-five dollars. You must think I am 
a high-priced man. You are too liberal with your money. 

Fifteen dollars is enough for the job. I send you a receipt for 
fifteen dollars, and return to you a ten-dollar bill. Yours truly, 

To Julian M. Sturtevant, president of Illinois College at Jackson- 
ville, Illinois. 

Springfield, 27th September 1856. 

My dear Sir: Owing to absence yours of the 16th was not 
received till the day before yesterday. I thank you for your 
good opinion of me personally, and still more for the deep 
interest you take in the cause of our common country. It pains 


me a little that you have deemed it necessary to point out to me 
how I may be compensated for throwing myself in the breach 
now. This assumes that I am merely calculating the chances of 
personal advancement. Let me assure you that I decline to be 
a candidate for Congress on my clear conviction that my running 
would hurt, and not help the cause. I am willing to make any 
personal sacrifice, but I am not willing to do what in my own 
judgment is a sacrifice of the cause itself. Very truly Yours 

From a speech in Chicago, after Republican defeat in the presi- 
dential election of 1856. 

10th December 1856. 

Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can 
change public opinion can change the government, practically 
just so much. Public opinion, or any subject, always has a 
'central idea,' from which all its minor thoughts radiate. That 
'central idea' in our political public opinion, at the beginning 
was, and until recently has continued to be, 'the equality of 
men.' And although it was always submitted patiently to 
whatever of inequality there seemed to be as matter of actual 
necessity, its constant working has been a steady progress 
towards the practical equality of all men. The late presidential 
election was a struggle, by one party, to discard that central idea, 
and to substitute for it the opposite idea that slavery is right, in 
the abstract, the workings of which, as a central idea, may be the 
perpetuity of human slavery, and its extension to all countries 
and colours. Less than a year ago the Richmond Enquirer, an 
avowed advocate of slavery, regardless of colour, in order to 
favour his views, invented the phrase, 'State equality,' and now 
the President, in his message, adopts the Enquirer's catch-phrase, 
telling us the people 'have asserted the constitutional equality 
of each and all the states of the Union as states.' The President 
flatters himself that the new central idea is completely inaugu- 
rated; and so, indeed, it is, so far as the mere fact of a presidential 
election can inaugurate it. To us it is left to know that the 
majority of the people have not yet declared for it, and to hope 
that they never will. 

All of us who did not vote for Mr Buchanan, taken together, 
are a majority of four hundred thousand. But, in the late 


contest we were divided between Fremont and Fillmore. Can 
we not come together, for the future? Let everyone who really 
believes, and is resolved, that free society is not, and shall not be, 
a failure, and who can conscientiously declare that in the past 
contest he has done only what he thought best — let every such 
one have charity to believe that every other one can say as much. 
Thus let bygones be bygones. Let past differences, as nothing 
be; and with steady eye on the real issue, let us reinaugurate the 
good old 'central ideas' of the Republic. We can do it. The 
human heart is with us — God is with us. We shall again be 
able not to declare, that 'all states as states, are equal,' nor yet 
that 'all citizens as citizens are equal,' but to renew the broader, 
better declaration, including both these and much more, that 
'all men are created equal.' 

From a speech on the Dred Scott decision in reply to Stephen A. 

Springfield, 26th June 1857. 

Fellow-Citizens: I am here to-night, partly by the invitation 
of some of you, and partly by my own inclination. Two weeks 
ago Judge Douglas spoke here on the several subjects of Kansas, 
the Dred Scott decision, and Utah. I listened to the speech at 
the time, and have read the report of it since. It was intended 
to controvert opinions which I think just, and to assail (politi- 
cally, not personally) those men who, in common with me, 
entertain those opinions. For this reason I wished then, and 
still wish, to make some answer to it, which I now take the 
opportunity of doing. . . . 

And now as to the Dred Scott decision. 1 That decision 

declares two propositions — first, that a Negro cannot sue in the 

U.S. courts; and secondly, that Congress cannot prohibit slavery 

in the territories. It was made by a divided court — dividing 

differently on the different points. Judge Douglas does not 

discuss the merits of the decision; and, in that respect, I shall 

follow his example, believing I could no more improve on 

McLean and Curtis than he could on Taney. 

1 Decided by the Supreme Court of the United States on 6th March 1857. 
Although all seven majority judges wrote opinions, that of Chief Justice 
Taney is usually accepted as the opinion of the Court. Justices McLean 
and Curtis dissented. 


He denounces all who question the correctness of that decision, 
as offering violent resistance to it. But who resists it? Who 
has, in spite of the decision, declared Dred Scott free, and 
resisted the authority of his master over him? 

Judicial decisions have two uses — first, to absolutely determine 
the case decided, and secondly, to indicate to the public how 
other similar cases will be decided when they arise. For the 
latter use, they are called ' precedents ' and ' authorities.' 

We believe, as much as Judge Douglas (perhaps more) in 
obedience to, and respect for, the judicial department of govern- 
ment. We think its decisions on constitutional questions, when 
fully settled, should control, not only the particular cases decided, 
but the general policy of the country, subject to be disturbed 
only by amendments of the Constitution as provided in that 
instrument itself. More than this would be revolution. But 
we think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the 
court that made it has often overruled its own decisions, and we 
shall do what we can to have it to overrule this. We offer no 
resistance to it. 

Judicial decisions are of greater or less authority as precedents, 
according to circumstances. That this should be so accords 
both with common sense and the customary understanding of 
the legal profession. 

If this important decision had been made by the unanimous 
concurrence of the judges, and without any apparent partisan 
bias, and in accordance with legal public expectation, and with 
the steady practice of the departments throughout our history, 
and had been in no part based on assumed historical facts which 
are not really true; or, if wanting in some of these, it had been 
before the court more than once, and had there been affirmed 
and reaffirmed through a course of years, it then might be, 
perhaps would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, to not 
acquiesce in it as a precedent. 

But when, as it is true, we find it wanting in all these claims to 
the public confidence, it is not resistance, it is not factious, it is 
not even disrespectful, to treat it as not having yet quite estab- 
lished a settled doctrine for the country. . . . 

Three years and a half ago, Judge Douglas brought forward 
his famous Nebraska bill. The country was at once in a blaze. 
He scorned all opposition, and carried it through Congress. 


Since then he has seen himself superseded in a presidential 
nomination, by one indorsing the general doctrine of his measure, 
but at the same time standing clear of the odium of its untimely 
agitation, and its gross breach of national faith ; and he has seen 
that successful rival constitutionally elected, not by the strength 
of friends, but by the division of adversaries, being in a popular 
minority of nearly four hundred thousand votes. He has seen 
his chief aids in his own state, Shields and Richardson, politically 
speaking, successively tried, convicted, and executed, for an 
offence not their own, but his. And how he sees his own case, 
standing next on the docket for trial. 

There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white 
people to the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the 
white and black races; and Judge Douglas evidently is basing 
his chief hope upon the chances of being able to appropriate the 
benefit of this disgust to himself. 

This very Dred Scott case affords a strong test as to which 
party most favours amalgamation, the Republicans or the dear 
Union-saving Democracy. Dred Scott, his wife and two 
daughters, were all involved in the suit. We desired the court 
to have held that they were citizens so far at least as to entitle 
them to a hearing as to whether they were free or not; and then, 
also, that they were in fact and in law really free. Could we 
have had our way, the chances of these black girls ever mixing 
their blood with that of white people would have been dimin- 
ished at least to the extent that it could not have been without 
their consent. But Judge Douglas is delighted to have them 
decided to be slaves, and not human enough to have a hearing, 
even if they were free, and thus left subject to the forced con- 
cubinage of their masters, and liable to become the mothers of 
mulattos in spite of themselves — the very state of case that 
produces nine-tenths of all the mulattos — all the mixing of blood 
in the nation. 

Of course, I state this case as an illustration only, not meaning 
to say or intimate that the master of Dred Scott and his family, 
or any more than a percentage of masters generally, are inclined 
to exercise this particular power which they hold over their 
female slaves. 


I have said that the separation of the races is the only perfect 
preventive of amalgamation. I have no right to say all the 
members of the Republican party are in favour of this, nor to 
say that as a party they are in favour of it. There is nothing in 
their platform directly on the subject. But I can say a very 
large proportion of its members are for it, and that the chief 
plank in their platform — opposition to the spread of slavery — is 
most favourable to that separation. 

Such separation, if ever effected at all, must be effected by 
colonization; and no political party, as such, is now doing 
anything directly for colonization. Party operations at present 
only favour or retard colonization incidentally. The enterprise 
is a difficult one; but 'when there is a will there is a way'; and 
what colonization needs most is a hearty will. Will springs 
from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest. Let us 
be brought to believe it is morally right, and, at the same time, 
favourable to, or, at least, not against, our interest, to transfer 
the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it, 
however great the task may be. The children of Israel, to such 
numbers as to include four hundred thousand fighting men, went 
out of Egyptian bondage in a body. 

How differently the respective courses of the Democratic and 
Republican parties incidentally bear on the question of forming 
a will — a public sentiment — for colonization, is easy to see. The 
Republicans inculcate, with whatever of ability they can, that 
the Negro is a man ; that his bondage is cruelly wrong, and that 
the field of his oppression ought not to be enlarged. The 
Democrats deny his manhood; deny, or dwarf to insignificance, 
the wrong of his bondage; so far as possible, crush all sympathy 
for him, and cultivate and excite hatred and disgust against 
him; compliment themselves as Union-savers for doing so; and 
call the indefinite outspreading of his bondage 'a sacred right of 

The plainest print cannot be read through a gold eagle; and 
it will be ever hard to find many men who will send a slave to 
Liberia, and pay his passage, while they can send him to a new 
country, Kansas, for instance, and sell him for fifteen hundred 
dollars, and the rise. 


To Jediah F. Alexander, editor of the Greenville, Illinois, ' Advo- 
cate * 

Springfield, 15th May 1858. 

My dear Sir: I reached home a week ago and found yours of 
the 1st inviting me to name a time to meet and address a political 
meeting in Bond county. It is too early, considering that when 
I once begin making political speeches I shall have no respite 
till November. The labour of that I might endure, but I really 
cannot spare the time from my business. 

Nearer the time I will try to meet the people of Bond, if they 

I will only say now that, as I understand, there remains all 
the difference there ever was between Judge Douglas and the 
Republicans — they insisting that Congress shall, and he insisting 
that Congress shall not, keep slavery out of the territories before 
and up to the time they form state constitutions. No Republican 
has ever contended that when a constitution is to be formed, 
any but the people of the territory shall form it. Republicans 
have never contended that Congress should dictate a constitution 
to any state or territory; but they have contended that the people 
should be perfectly free to form their constitution in their own 
way — as perfectly free from the presence of slavery amongst them 
as from every other improper influence. 

In voting together in opposition to a constitution being forced 
upon the people of Kansas, neither Judge Douglas nor the 
Republicans has conceded anything which was ever in dispute 
between them. Yours very truly 

Speech at Springfield accepting the Republican nomination for the 

United States Senate in opposition to Stephen A. Douglas, 

Democrat. ->t _ _.___ 

16th June 1858. 

Mr President and Gentlemen of the Convention: If we could 
first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could 
then better judge what to do, and how to do it. 

We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated 
with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end 
to slavery agitation. 

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only 
not ceased, but has constantly augmented. 

72 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been 
reached, and passed. 

'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' 

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half 
slave and half free. 

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved— I do not ex- 
pect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be 

It will become all one thing, or all the other. 

Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of 
it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that 
it is in course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it 
forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the states, old as 
well as new — north as well as south. 

Have we no tendency to the latter condition? 

Let anyone who doubts, carefully contemplate that now 
almost complete legal combination — piece of machinery so to 
speak — compounded of the Nebraska doctrine and the Dred 
Scott decision. Let him consider not only what work the 
machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapted ; but also, let 
him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, 
or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidences of design, and 
concert of action, among its chief bosses from the beginning. 

But, so far, Congress only had acted; and an indorsement by 
the people, real or apparent, was indispensable to save the point 
already gained, and give chance for more. 

The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than 
half the states by state constitutions, and from most of the 
national territory by congressional prohibition. 

Four days later commenced the struggle which ended in 
repealing that congressional prohibition. 

This opened all the national territory to slavery; and was the 
first point gained. 

This necessity had not been overlooked; but had been provided 
for, as well as might be, in the notable argument of 'squatter 
sovereignty,' otherwise called 'sacred right of self-government, 1 
which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis 
of any government, was so perverted in this attempted use of it 
as to amount to just this : That if any one man choose to enslave 
another, no third man shall be allowed to object. 


That argument was incorporated into the Nebraska bill itself, 
in the language which follows: '// being the true intent and 
meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or 
state, nor exclude it therefrom; but to leave the people thereof 
perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in 
their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States.'' 

Then opened the roar of loose declamation in favour of 
'Squatter Sovereignty,' and 'Sacred right of self-government.' 

'But,' said opposition members, 'let us be more specific — let 
us amend the bill so as to expressly declare that the people of the 
territory may exclude slavery.' 'Not we,' said the friends of the 
measure; and down they voted the amendment. 

While the Nebraska bill was passing through Congress, a law 
case, involving the question of a Negro's freedom, by reason of 
his owner having voluntarily taken him first into a free state 
and then a territory covered by the congressional prohibition, 
and held him as a slave, for a long time in each, was passing 
through the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Missouri; and 
both Nebraska bill and lawsuit were brought to a decision in the 
same month of May 1 854. The Negro's name was ' Dred Scott,' 
which name now designates the decision finally made in the case. 

Before the then next presidential election, the law case came 
to, and was argued in the Supreme Court of the United States ; 
but the decision of it was deferred until after the election. Still, 
before the election, Senator Trumbull, on the floor of the Senate, 
requests the leading advocate of the Nebraska bill to state his 
opinion whether the people of a territory can constitutionally 
exclude slavery from their limits; and the latter answers, 'That is 
a question for the Supreme Court.' 

The election came. Mr Buchanan was elected, and the 
indorsement, such as it was, secured. That was the second point 
gained. The indorsement, however, fell short of a clear popular 
majority by nearly four hundred thousand votes, and so, perhaps, 
was not overwhelmingly reliable and satisfactory. 

The outgoing President, in his last annual message, as impres- 
sively as possible echoed back upon the people the weight and 
authority of the indorsement. 

The Supreme Court met again; did not announce their decision, 
but ordered a re-argument. 

The presidential inauguration came, and still no decision of 

74 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

the court; but the incoming President, in his inaugural address, 
fervently exhorted the people to abide by the forthcoming 
decision, whatever it might be. 

Then, in a few days, came the decision. 

The reputed author of the Nebraska bill finds an early occasion 
to make a speech at this capitol indorsing the Dred Scott decision, 
and vehemently denouncing all opposition to it. 

The new President, too, seizes the early occasion of the Silliman 
letter to indorse and strongly construe that decision, and to express 
his astonishment that any different view had ever been entertained. 

At length a squabble springs up between the President and the 
author of the Nebraska bill, on the mere question of fact, whether 
the Lecompton constitution was or was not, in any just sense, 
made by the people of Kansas ; and in that squabble the latter 
declares that all he wants is a fair vote for the people, and that 
he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up. I do 
not understand his declaration that he cares not whether slavery 
be voted down or voted up, to be intended by him other than as 
an apt definition of the policy he would impress upon the public 
mind — the principle for which he declares he has suffered much, 
and is ready to suffer to the end. 

And well may he cling to that principle. If he has any 
parental feeling, well may he cling to it. That principle is the 
only shred left of his original Nebraska doctrine. Under the 
Dred Scott decision 'squatter sovereignty' squatted out of 
existence, tumbled down like temporary scaffolding — like the 
mould at the foundry served through one blast and fell back into 
loose sand — helped to carry an election, and then was kicked to 
the winds. His late joint struggle with the Republicans, against 
the Lecompton Constitution, involves nothing of the original 
Nebraska doctrine. That struggle was made on a point, the 
right of a people to make their own constitution, upon which he 
and the Republicans have never differed. 

The several points of the Dred Scott decision, in connection 
with Senator Douglas's 'care not' policy, constitute the piece of 
machinery, in its present state of advancement. This was the 
third point gained. 

The working points of that machinery are: 

First, that no Negro slave, imported as such from Africa, and 
no descendant of such slave can ever be a citizen of any state, in 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 75 

the sense of that term as used in the Constitution of the United 

This point is made in order to deprive the Negro, in every 
possible event, of the benefit of this provision of the United 
States Constitution, which declares that — 

'The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges 
and immunities of citizens in the several states.' 

Secondly, that 'subject to the Constitution of the United 
States,' neither Congress nor a territorial legislature can exclude 
slavery from any United States territory. 

This point is made in order that individual men may./?// up the 
territories with slaves, without danger of losing them as property, 
and thus to enhance the chances of permanency to the institution 
through all the future. 

Thirdly, that whether the holding a Negro in actual slavery in a 
free state makes him free, as against the holder, the United 
States courts will not decide, but will leave to be decided by the 
courts of any slave state the Negro may be forced into by the 

This point is made, not to be pressed immediately, but, if 
acquiesced in for a while, and apparently indorsed by the people 
at an election, then to sustain the logical conclusion that what 
Dred Scott's master might lawfully do with Dred Scott, in the free 
state of Illinois, every other master may lawfully do with any other 
one, or one thousand slaves, in Illinois, or in any other free state. 

Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the 
Nebraska doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mould 
public opinion, at least northern public opinion, to not care 
whether slavery is voted down or voted up. 

This shows exactly where we now are and partially also, 
whither we are tending. 

It will throw additional light on the latter to go back and run 
the mind over the string of historical facts already stated. Several 
things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did 
when they were transpiring. The people were to be left 'per- 
fectly free' 'subject only to the Constitution.' What the 
Constitution had to do with it, outsiders could not then see. 
Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted niche, for the Dred 
Scott decision to afterwards come in, and declare the perfect 
freedom of the people, to be just no freedom at all. 


Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the 
people to exclude slavery, voted down? Plainly enough now, 
the adoption of it would have spoiled the niche for the Dred 
Scott decision. 

Why was the court decision held up? Why, even a Senator's 
individual opinion withheld, till after the presidential election? 
Plainly enough now, the speaking out then would have damaged 
the ' perfectly free' argument upon which the election was to be 

Why the outgoing President's felicitation on the indorsement? 
Why the delay of a re-argument? Why the incoming President's 
advance exhortation in favour of the decision? 

These things look like the cautious patting and petting a spirited 
horse, preparatory to mounting him, when it is dreaded that he 
may give the rider a fall. 

And why the hasty after-indorsements of the decision by the 
President and others? 

We cannot absolutely know that all these exact adaptations are 
the result of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed 
timbers, different portions of which we know have been gotten 
out at different times and places and by different workmen — 
Stephen, Franklin, Roger, and James, 1 for instance — and when 
we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly make 
the frame of a house or a mill, all the tenons and mortices 
exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the different 
pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece 
too many or too few — not omitting even scaffolding — or, if a 
single piece be lacking, we can see the place in the frame fitted 
and prepared to yet bring such piece in — in such a case, we find it 
impossible to not believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger 
and James all understood one another from the beginning, and 
all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the 
first lick was struck. 

It should not be overlooked that, by the Nebraska bill, the 
people of a state as well as territory, were to be left 'perfectly 
free' 'subject only to the Constitution.' 

Why mention a statel They were legislating for territories, 

1 Stephen A. Douglas, sponsor of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill; Franklin 
Pierce, President, 1853-7; Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the United 
States; and James Buchanan, President, 1857-61. 


and not for or about states. Certainly the people of a state are 
and ought to be subject to the Constitution of the United States; 
but why is mention of this lugged into this merely territorial law? 
Why are the people of a territory and the people of a state therein 
lumped together, and their relation to the Constitution therein 
treated as being precisely the same? 

While the opinion of the court, by Chief Justice Taney, in the 
Dred Scott case, and the separate opinions of all the concurring 
judges, expressly declare that the Constitution of the United 
States neither permits Congress nor a territorial legislature to 
exclude slavery from any United States territory, they all omit 
to declare whether or not the same Constitution permits a 
state, or the people of a state, to exclude it. 

Possibly this was a mere omission; but who can be quite sure, 
if McLean or Curtis had sought to get into the opinion a declara- 
tion of unlimited power in the people of a state to exclude 
slavery from their limits, just as Chase and Macy sought to get 
such declaration, in behalf of the people of a territory, into the 
Nebraska bill — I ask, who can be quite sure that it would not 
have been voted down, in the one case, as it had been in the 

The nearest approach to the point of declaring the power of a 
state over slavery is made by Judge Nelson. He approaches it 
more than once, using the precise idea, and almost the language 
too, of the Nebraska Act. On one occasion his exact language 
is, 'except in cases where the power is restrained by the Con- 
stitution of the United States, the law of the state is supreme 
over the subject of slavery within its jurisdiction.' 

In what cases the power of the states is so restrained by the 
U.S. Constitution is left an open question, precisely as the same 
question, as to the restraint on the power of the territories was 
left open in the Nebraska Act. Put that and that together, and 
we have another nice little niche, which we may, ere long, see 
filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the 
Constitution of the United States does not permit a state to 
exclude slavery from its limits. 

And this may especially be expected if the doctrine of 'care 
not whether slavery be voted down or voted up* shall gain upon 
the public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a decision 
can be maintained when made. 


Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike 
lawful in all the states. 

Welcome or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming, 
and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the present political 
dynasty shall be met and overthrown. 

We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of 
Missouri are on the verge of making their state free; and we shall 
awake to the reality, instead, that the Supreme Court has made 
Illinois a slave state. 

To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty is the work 
now before all those who would prevent that consummation. 

That is what we have to do. 

But how can we best do it? 

There are those who denounce us openly to their own friends, 
and yet whisper us softly, that Senator Douglas is the aptest 
instrument there is, with which to effect that object. They do 
not tell us, nor has he told us, that he wishes any such object to 
be effected. They wish us to infer all, from the facts, that he 
now has a little quarrel with the present head of the dynasty ; and 
that he has regularly voted with us, on a single point, upon which 
he and we have never differed. 

They remind us that he is a very great man, and that the largest 
of us are very small ones. Let this be granted. But 'a living 
dog is better than a dead lion.'' Judge Douglas, if not a dead 
lion for this work, is at least a caged and toothless one. How 
can he oppose the advances of slavery? He don't care anything 
about it. His avowed mission is impressing the 'public heart' 
to care nothing about it. 

A leading Douglas Democratic newspaper thinks Douglas's 
superior talent will be needed to resist the revival of the African 
slave trade. 

Does Douglas believe an effort to revive that trade is approach- 
ing? He has not said so. Does he really think so? But if it 
is, how can he resist it? For years he has laboured to prove it 
a sacred right of white men to take Negro slaves into the new 
territories. Can he possibly show that it is less a sacred right to 
buy them where they can be bought cheapest? And unquestion- 
ably they can be bought cheaper in Africa than in Virginia. 

He has done all in his power to reduce the whole question of 
slavery to one of a mere right of property, and as such, how can 


he oppose the foreign slave trade — how can he refuse that trade 
in that 'property' shall be 'perfectly free' — unless he does it as 
a protection to the home production? And as the home pro- 
ducers will probably not ask the protection, he will be wholly 
without a ground of opposition. 

Senator Douglas holds, we know, that a man may rightfully 
be wiser to-day than he was yesterday — that he may rightfully 
change when he finds himself wrong. 

But, can we for that reason, run ahead, and infer that he will 
make any particular change, of which he, himself, has given no 
intimation? Can we safely base our action upon any such vague 

Now, as ever, I wish to not misrepresent Judge Douglas's 
position, question his motives, or do aught that can be personally 
offensive to him. 

Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on principle 
so that our great cause may have assistance from his great ability, 
I hope to have interposed no adventitious obstacle. 

But clearly he is not now with us — he does not pretend to be — ■ 
he does not promise to ever be. 

Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by its 
own undoubted friends — those whose hands are free, whose 
hearts are in the work — who do care for the result. 

Two years ago the Republicans of the nation mustered over 
thirteen hundred thousand strong. 

We did this under the single impulse of resistance to a common 
danger, with every external circumstance against us. 

Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered 
from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, 
under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud, and pampered 

Did we brave all then, to falter now? — now — when that same 
enemy is wavering, dissevered and belligerent? 

The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail — if we stand 
firm, we shall not fail. 

Wise councils may accelerate or mistakes delay it, but, sooner 
or later, the victory is sure to come. 


To John L. Scripps, editor of the Chicago 'Daily Democratic 

Springfield, 23rd June 1858. 

My dear Sir: Your kind note of yesterday is duly received. I 
am much flattered by the estimate you place on my late speech; 
and yet I am much mortified that any part of it should be 
construed so differently from anything intended by me. The 
language, ' place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief 
that it is in course of ultimate extinction,' I used deliberately, 
not dreaming then, nor believing now, that it asserts, or intimates, 
any power or purpose to interfere with slavery in the states 
where it exists. But, to not cavil about language, I declare that 
whether the clause used by me will bear such construction or not, 
I never so intended it. I have declared a thousand times, and 
now repeat that, in my opinion, neither the general government, 
nor any other power outside of the slave states, can constitu- 
tionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it 
already exists. I believe that whenever the effort to spread 
slavery into the new territories, by whatever means, and into the 
free states themselves, by Supreme Court decisions, shall be 
fairly headed off, the institution will then be in course of ultimate 
extinction ; and by the language used I meant only this. 

I do not intend this for publication; but still you may show it 
to anyone you think fit. I think I shall, as you suggest, take 
some early occasion to publicly repeat the declaration I have 
already so often made as before stated. Yours very truly 

From a speech at Chicago in which Lincoln opened his campaign. 

10th July 1858. 

My Fellow-Citizens : On yesterday evening, upon the occasion 
of the reception given to Senator Douglas, I was furnished with a 
seat very convenient for hearing him, and was otherwise very 
courteously treated by him and his friends, and for which I thank 
him and them. During the course of his remarks my name was 
mentioned in such a way as I suppose renders it at least not 
improper that I should make some sort of reply to him. I shall 
not attempt to follow him in the precise order in which he 


addressed the assembled multitude upon that occasion, though 
I shall perhaps do so in the main. . . . 

Judge Douglas made two points upon my recent speech at 
Springfield. He says they are to be the issues of this campaign. 
The first one of these points he bases upon the language in a 
speech which I delivered at Springfield, which I believe I can 
quote correctly from memory. I said there that 'we are now 
far into the fifth year since a policy was instituted for the avowed 
object and with the confident promise of putting an end to 
slavery agitation; under the operation of that policy, that 
agitation had not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. 
I believe it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and 
passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe 
this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half 
free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved' — I am quoting 
from my speech — 'I do not expect the house to fall, but I do 
expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing 
or the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the 
spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the 
belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advo- 
cates will push it forward until it shall become alike lawful in all 
the states, north as well as south.' 

... In this paragraph which I have quoted in your hearing, and 
to which I ask the attention of all, Judge Douglas thinks he dis- 
covers great political heresy. I want your attention particularly 
to what he has inferred from it. He says I am in favour of 
making all the states of this Union uniform in all their internal 
regulations; that in all their domestic concerns I am in favour of 
making them entirely uniform. He draws this inference from 
the language I have quoted to you. He says that I am in favour 
of making war by the North upon the South for the extinction 
of slavery; that I am also in favour of inviting (as he expresses 
it) the South to a war upon the North, for the purpose of nation- 
alizing slavery. Now, it is singular enough, if you will carefully 
read that passage over, that I did not say that I was in favour of 
anything in it. I only said what I expected would take place. 
I made a prediction only — it may have been a foolish one per- 
haps. I did not even say that I desired that slavery should be 
put in course of ultimate extinction. I do say so now, however, 
so there need be no longer any difficulty about that. . . . 

D zo6 


Gentlemen, Judge Douglas informed you that this speech of 
mine was probably carefully prepared. 1 admit that it was. I 
am not master of language ; I have not a fine education ; I am not 
capable of entering into a disquisition upon dialectics, as I 
believe you call it; but I do not believe the language I employed 
bears any such construction as Judge Douglas put upon it. But 
I don't care about a quibble in regard to words. I know what 
I meant, and I will not leave this crowd in doubt, if I can explain 
it to them, what I really meant in the use of that paragraph. 

I am not, in the first place, unaware that this government has 
endured eighty-two years, half slave and half free. I know that. 
I am tolerably well acquainted with the history of the country, 
and I know that it has endured eighty-two years, half slave and 
half free. I believe — and that is what I meant to allude to there 
— I believe it has endured because, during all that time, until the 
introduction of the Nebraska bill, the public mind did rest, all 
the time, in the belief that slavery was in course of ultimate 
extinction. That was what gave us the rest that we had through 
that period of eighty-two years ; at least, so I believe. I have 
always hated slavery, I think as much as any abolitionist. I 
have been an Old Line Whig. I have always hated it, but I have 
always been quiet about it until this new era of the introduction 
of the Nebraska bill began. I always believed that everybody 
was against it, and that it was in course of ultimate extinction. 
[Pointing to Mr Browning, who stood near by.] Browning 
thought so; the great mass of the nation have rested in the belief 
that slavery was in course of ultimate extinction. They had 
reason so to believe. 

The adoption of the Constitution and its attendant history led 
the people to believe so; and that such was the belief of the 
framers of the Constitution itself. Why did those old men, 
about the time of the adoption of the Constitution, decree that 
slavery should not go into the new territory, where it had not 
already gone? Why declare that within twenty years the African 
slave trade, by which slaves are supplied, might be cut off by 
Congress? Why were all these acts? I might enumerate more 
of these acts — but enough. What were they but a clear indica- 
tion that the framers of the Constitution intended and expected 
the ultimate extinction of that institution. And now, when I say, 
as I said in my speech that Judge Douglas has quoted from, when 


I say that I think the opponents of slavery will resist the farther 
spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest with 
the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction, I only mean 
to say that they will place it where the founders of this govern- 
ment originally placed it. 

I have said a hundred times, and I have now no inclination to 
take it back, that I believe there is no right, and ought to be no 
inclination in the people of the free states to enter into the slave 
states, and interfere with the question of slavery at all. I have 
said that always. Judge Douglas has heard me say it — if not 
quite a hundred times, at least as good as a hundred times ; and 
when it is said that I am in favour of interfering with slavery 
where it exists, I know it is unwarranted by anything I have ever 
intended, and, as I believe, by anything I have ever said. If, by 
any means, I have ever used language which could fairly be so 
construed (as, however, I believe I never have), I now correct it. 

So much then for the inference that Judge Douglas draws, that 
I am in favour of setting the sections at war with one another. 
I know that I never meant any such thing, and I believe that no 
fair mind can infer any such thing from anything I have ever said. 

Now in relation to his inference that I am in favour of a general 
consolidation of all the local institutions of the various states. I 
will attend to that for a little while, and try to inquire, if I can, 
how on earth it could be that any man could draw such an 
inference from anything I said. I have said, very many times, in 
Judge Douglas's hearing, that no man believed more than I in the 
principle of self-government; that it lies at the bottom of all my 
ideas of just government, from beginning to end. I have denied 
that his use of that term applies properly. But for the thing 
itself, I deny that any man has ever gone ahead of me in his 
devotion to the principle, whatever he may have done in efficiency 
in advocating it. I think that I have said it in your hearing — 
that I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he 
pleases with himself and the fruit of his labours, so far as it in 
no wise interferes with any other man's rights — that each com- 
munity, as a state, has a right to do exactly as it pleases with all 
the concerns within that state that interfere with the rights of no 
other state, and that the general government, upon principle, 
has no right to interfere with anything other than that general 
class of things that does concern the whole. I have said that 


at all times. I have said, as illustrations, that I do not believe in 
the right of Illinois to interfere with the cranberry laws of 
Indiana, the oyster laws of Virginia, or the liquor laws of Maine. 
I have said these things over and over again, and I repeat them 
here as my sentiments. 

How is it, then, that Judge Douglas infers, because I hope to 
see slavery put where the public mind shall rest in the belief that 
it is in the course of ultimate extinction, that 1 am in favour of 
Illinois going over and interfering with the cranberry laws of 
Indiana? What can authorize him to draw any such inference? 
I suppose there might be one thing that at least enabled him to 
draw such an inference that would not be true with me or with 
many others, that is, because he looks upon all this matter of 
slavery as an exceedingly little thing — this matter of keeping 
one-sixth of the population of the whole nation in a state of 
oppression and tyranny unequalled in the world. He looks 
upon it as being an exceedingly little thing — only equal to the 
question of the cranberry laws of Indiana — as something having 
no moral question in it — as something on a par with the question 
of whether a man shall pasture his land with cattle, or plant it 
with tobacco — so little and so small a thing, that he concludes, 
if I could desire that anything should be done to bring about 
the ultimate extinction of that little thing, I must be in favour of 
bringing about an amalgamation of all the other little things in 
the Union. Now, it so happens — and there, I presume, is the 
foundation of this mistake — that the Judge thinks thus; and it so 
happens that there is a vast portion of the American people that 
do not look upon that matter as being this very little thing. They 
look upon it as a vast moral evil; they can prove it is such by 
the writings of those who gave us the blessings of liberty which 
we enjoy, and that they so looked upon it, and not as an evil 
merely confining itself to the states where it is situated; and while 
we agree that, by the Constitution we assented to, in the states 
where it exists we have no right to interfere with it because it 
is in the Constitution and we are by both duty and inclination 
to stick by that Constitution in all its letters and spirit from 
beginning to end. 

So much then as to my disposition — my wish — to have all the 
state legislatures blotted out, and to have one general consoli- 
dated government, and a uniformity of domestic regulations in 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 85 

all the states, by which I suppose it is meant if we raise corn here, 
we must make sugarcane grow here too, and we must make those 
which grow north grow in the south. All this I suppose he 
understands I am in favour of doing. Now, so much for all this 
nonsense — for I must call it so. The Judge can have no issue 
with me on a question of establishing uniformity in the domestic 
regulations of the states. . . . 

Now, it happens that we meet together once every year, some 
time about the 4th of July, for some reason or other. These 4th 
of July gatherings I suppose have their uses. If you will indulge 
me, I will state what I suppose to be some of them. 

We are now a mighty nation, we are thirty — or about thirty — 
millions of people, and we own and inhabit about one-fifteenth 
part of the dry land of the whole earth. We run our memory 
back over the pages of history for about eighty-two years and 
we discover that we were then a very small people in point of 
numbers, vastly inferior to what we are now, with a vastly less 
extent of country — with vastly less of everything we deem 
desirable among men — we look upon the change as exceedingly 
advantageous to us and to our posterity, and we fix upon some- 
thing that happened away back as in some way or other being 
connected with this rise of prosperity. We find a race of men 
living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers ; 
they were iron men, they fought for the principle that they were 
contending for; and we understood that by what they then did 
it has followed that the degree of prosperity that we now enjoy 
has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind 
ourselves of all the good done in this process of time, of how it 
was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected 
with it; and we go from these meetings in better humour with 
ourselves — we feel more attached the one to the other, and more 
firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are 
better men in the age, and race, and country in which we live 
for these celebrations. But after we have done all this we have 
not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected 
with it. We have besides these men — descended by blood from 
our ancestors — among us perhaps half our people who are not 
descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come 
from Europe — German, Irish, French, and Scandinavian — men 
that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have 


come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in 
all things. If they look back through this history to trace their 
connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, 
they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and 
make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look 
through that old Declaration of Independence they find that 
those old men say that 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, 
that all men are created equal,' and then they feel that that moral 
sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those 
men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and 
that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the 
blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declara- 
tion, and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declara- 
tion that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men 
together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love 
of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world. 

Now, sirs, for the purpose of squaring things with this idea of 
'don't care if slavery is voted up or voted down,' for sustaining 
the Dred Scott decision, for holding that the Declaration of 
Independence did not mean anything at all, we have Judge 
Douglas giving his exposition of what the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence means, and we have him saying that the people of 
America are equal to the people of England. According to his 
construction, you Germans are not connected with it. Now I 
ask you in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if 
ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and 
repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty 
in the country, and to transform this government into a govern- 
ment of some other form. Those arguments that are made, 
that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance 
as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for 
them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? 
They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the 
people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the 
arguments in favour of kingcraft were of this class ; they always 
bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, 
but because the people were better off for being ridden. That 
is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old 
serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy 
the fruits of it. Turn it whatever way you will — whether it come 


from the mouth of a king, an excuse for enslaving the people 
of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason 
for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old 
serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made 
for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not 
care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the 
Negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of 
Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon 
principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one 
man says it does not mean a Negro, why not another say it does 
not mean some other man? If that declaration is not the truth, 
let us get the statute book in which we find it and tear it out! 
Who is so bold as to do it! If it is not true let us tear it out! 
Let us stick to it then, let us stand firmly by it then. 

If may be argued that there are certain conditions that make 
necessities and impose them upon us, and to the extent that a 
necessity is imposed upon a man he must submit to it. I think 
that was the condition in which we found ourselves when we 
established this government. We had slavery among us, we 
could not get our constitution unless we permitted them to 
remain in slavery, we could not secure the good we did secure if 
we grasped for more, and having by necessity submitted to that 
much, it does not destroy the principle that is the charter of our 
liberties. Let that charter stand as our standard. . . . 

From a speech at Springfield. 

17th July 1858. 

. . . After Senator Douglas left Washington, as his movements 
were made known by the public prints, he tarried a considerable 
time in the city of New York; and it was heralded that, like 
another Napoleon, he was lying by, and framing the plan of his 
campaign. It was telegraphed to Washington City, and pub- 
lished in the Union, that he was framing his plan for the purpose 
of going to Illinois to pounce upon and annihilate the treason- 
able and disunion speech which Lincoln had made here on the 
16th of June. Now, I do suppose that the Judge really spent 
some time in New York maturing the plan of the campaign, as 
his friends heralded for him. I have been able, by noting his 
movements since his arrival in Illinois, to discover evidences 


confirmatory of that allegation. I think I have been able to see 
what are the material points of that plan. I will, for a little while, 
ask your attention to some of them. What I shall point out, 
though not showing the whole plan, are, nevertheless, the main 
points, as I suppose. . . . 

When he was preparing his plan of campaign, Napoleon-like, 
in New York, as appears by two speeches I have heard him 
deliver since his arrival in Illinois, he gave special attention to a 
speech of mine, delivered here on the 16th of June last. He 
says that he carefully read that speech. He told us that at 
Chicago a week ago last night, and he repeated it at Bloomington 
last night. Doubtless he repeated it again to-day, though I did 
not hear him. In the two first places — Chicago and Blooming- 
ton — I heard him; to-day I did not. He said he had carefully 
examined that speech; when, he did not say; but there is no 
reasonable doubt it was when he was in New York preparing 
his plan of campaign. I am glad he did read it carefully. He 
says it was evidently prepared with great care. I freely admit it 
was prepared with care. I claim not to be more free from errors 
than others — perhaps scarcely so much; but I was very careful 
not to put anything in that speech as a matter of fact, or make 
any inferences which did not appear to me to be true, and fully 
warrantable. If I had made any mistake I was willing to be 
corrected; if I had drawn any inference in regard to Judge 
Douglas, or anyone else, which was not warranted, I was fully 
prepared to modify it as soon as discovered. I planted myself 
upon the truth, and the truth only, so far as I knew it, or could 
be brought to know it. 

Having made that speech with the most kindly feeling towards 
Judge Douglas, as manifested therein, I was gratified when I found 
that he had carefully examined it and had detected no error of fact, 
nor any inference against him, nor any misrepresentations, of 
which he thought fit to complain. In neither of the two speeches 
I have mentioned, did he make any such complaint. I will 
thank anyone who will inform me that he, in his speech to-day, 
pointed out anything I had stated, respecting him, as being 
erroneous. I presume there is no such thing. I have reason 
to be gratified that the care and caution used in that speech left 
it so that he, most of all others interested in discovering error, has 
not been able to point out one thing against him which he could 


say was wrong. He seizes upon the doctrines he supposes to be 
included in that speech, and declares that upon them will turn the 
issues of this campaign. He then quotes, or attempts to quote, 
from my speech. I will not say that he wilfully misquotes, but 
he does fail to quote accurately. His attempt at quoting is from 
a passage which 1 believe I can quote accurately from memory. 
I shall make the quotation now, with some comments upon it, 
as I have already said, in order that the Judge shall be left entirely 
without excuse for misrepresenting me. I do so now, as I hope, 
for the last time. I do this in great caution, in order that if he 
repeats his misrepresentation, it shall be plain to all that he does 
so wilfully. If, after all, he still persists, 1 shall be compelled to 
reconstruct the course I have marked out for myself, and draw 
upon such humble resources as I have, for a new course, better 
suited to the real exigencies of the case. I set out in this cam- 
paign, with the intention of conducting it strictly as a gentleman, 
in substance at least, if not in the outside polish. The latter I 
shall never be, but that which constitutes the inside of a gentle- 
man I hope I understand, and am not less inclined to practice 
than others. It was my purpose and expectation that this 
canvass would be conducted upon principle, and with fairness 
on both sides ; and it shall not be my fault, if this purpose and 
expectation shall be given up. 

He charges, in substance, that I invite a war of sections ; that I 
propose all the local institutions of the different states shall 
become consolidated and uniform. What is there in the language 
of that speech which expresses such purpose, or bears such con- 
struction? I have again and again said that I would not enter 
into any of the states to disturb the institution of slavery. Judge 
Douglas said, at Bloomington, that I used language most able 
and ingenious for concealing what I really meant; and that while 
I had protested against entering into the slave states, I neverthe- 
less did mean to go on the banks of Ohio and throw missiles into 
Kentucky to disturb them in their domestic institutions. 

I said, in that speech, and I meant no more, that the institution 
of slavery ought to be placed in the very attitude where the 
framers of this government placed it, and left it. I do not under- 
stand that the framers of our Constitution left the people of the 
free states in the attitude of firing bombs or shells into the slave 
states. I was not using that passage for the purpose for which he 

* D 206 

90 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

infers I did use it. I said: 'We are now far advanced into the 
fifth year since a policy was created for the avowed object and 
with the confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. 
Under the operation of that policy that agitation has not only 
not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion it will 
not cease till a crisis shall have been reached and passed. "A 
house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe that this 
government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. 
It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents 
of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where 
the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of 
ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward till it 
shall become alike lawful in all the states, old as well as new, 
north as well as south.' 

Now you all see, from that quotation, I did not express my 
wish on anything. In that passage I indicated no wish or purpose 
of my own; I simply expressed my expectation. Cannot the 
Judge perceive the distinction between a purpose and an expecta- 
tion! I have often expressed an expectation to die, but I have 
never expressed a wish to die. I said at Chicago, and now 
repeat, that I am quite aware this government has endured, half 
slave and half free, for eighty-two years. I understand that little 
bit of history. I expressed the opinion I did, because I perceived 
— or thought I perceived — a new set of causes introduced. I did 
say, at Chicago, in my speech there, that I do wish to see the 
spread of slavery arrested and to see it placed where the public 
mind shall rest in the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinc- 
tion. I said that because I supposed, when the public mind shall 
rest in that belief, we shall have peace on the slavery question. I 
have believed — and now believe — the public mind did rest on 
that belief up to the introduction of the Nebraska bill. 

Although I have ever been opposed to slavery, so far I rested in 
the hope and belief that it was in course of ultimate extinction. 
For that reason, it had been a minor question with me. I 
might have been mistaken ; but I had believed, and now believe, 
that the whole public mind, that is the mind of the great majority, 
had rested in that belief up to the repeal of the Missouri Com- 
promise. But upon that event, I became convinced that either 
I had been resting in a delusion, or the institution was being 
placed on a new basis — a basis for making it perpetual, national, 


and universal. Subsequent events have greatly confirmed me 
in that belief. I believe that bill to be the beginning of a con- 
spiracy for that purpose. So believing, I have since then con- 
sidered that question a paramount one. So believing, I have 
thought the public mind will never rest till the power of Congress 
to restrict the spread of it shall again be acknowledged and 
exercised on the one hand, or on the other, all resistance be 
entirely crushed out. I have expressed that opinion, and I 
entertain it to-night. It is denied that there is any tendency to 
the nationalization of slavery in these states. . . . 

Now, as to the Dred Scott decision; for upon that he makes 
his last point at me. He boldly takes ground in favour of that 

This is one-half the onslaught, and one-third of the entire plan 
of the campaign. I am opposed to that decision in a certain 
sense, but not in the sense which he puts on it. I say that in 
so far as it decided in favour of Dred Scott's master and against 
Dred Scott and his family, I do not propose to disturb or resist 
the decision. 

I never have proposed to do any such thing. I think that in 
respect for judicial authority, my humble history would not 
suffer in a comparison with that of Judge Douglas. He would 
have the citizen conform his vote to that decision; the member 
of Congress, his ; the President, his use of the veto power. He 
would make it a rule of political action for the people and all the 
departments of the government. I would not. By resisting it 
as a political rule, I disturb no right of property, create no dis- 
order, excite no mobs. . . . 

Now, I wish to know what the Judge can charge upon me, with 
respect to decisions of the Supreme Court which does not lie in 
all its length, breadth, and proportions at his own door. The 
plain truth is simply this : Judge Douglas is for Supreme Court 
decisions when he likes them and against them when he does not 
like them. He is for the Dred Scott decision because it tends to 
nationalize slavery — because it is part of the original combination 
for that object. It so happens, singularly enough, that I never 
stood opposed to a decision of the Supreme Court till this. On 
the contrary, I have no recollection that he was ever particularly in 
favour of one till this. He never was in favour of any, nor opposed 
to any, till the present one, which helps to nationalize slavery. 

92 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

Free men of Sangamon — free men of Illinois — free men every- 
where — judge ye between him and me, upon this issue. 

He says this Dred Scott case is a very small matter at most — 
that it has no practical effect; that at best, or rather, I suppose, 
at worst, it is but an abstraction. 1 submit that the proposition 
that the thing which determines whether a man is free or a slave, 
is rather concrete than abstract. I think you would conclude 
that it was, if your liberty depended upon it, and so would Judge 
Douglas if his liberty depended upon it. But suppose it was on 
the question of spreading slavery over the new territories that 
he considers it as being merely an abstract matter, and one of no 
importance. How has the planting of slavery in new countries 
always been effected? It has now been decided that slavery 
cannot be kept out of our new territories by any legal means. 
In what does our new territories now differ in this respect, from 
the old colonies when slavery was first planted within them? It 
was planted as Mr Clay once declared, and as history proves 
true, by individual men in spite of the wishes of the people ; the 
mother government refusing to prohibit it, and withholding 
from the people of the colonies the authority to prohibit it for 
themselves. Mr Clay says this was one of the great and just 
causes of complaint against Great Britain by the colonies, and the 
best apology we can now make for having the institution amongst 
us. In that precise condition our Nebraska politicians have at 
last succeeded in placing our own new territories, the govern- 
ment will not prohibit slavery within them, nor allow the people 
to prohibit it. . . . 

One more thing. Last night Judge Douglas tormented himself 
with horrors about my disposition to make Negroes perfectly 
equal with white men in social and political relations. He did 
not stop to show that I have said any such thing, or that it 
legitimately follows from anything I have said, but he rushes on 
with his assertions. I adhere to the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence. If Judge Douglas and his friends are not willing to stand 
by it, let them come up and amend it. Let them make it read 
that all men are created equal except Negroes. Let us have it 
decided, whether the Declaration of Independence, in this blessed 
year of 1858, shall be thus amended. In his construction of the 
Declaration last year he said it only meant that Americans in 
America were equal to Englishmen in England. Then, when I 


pointed out to him that by that rule he excludes the Germans, 
the Irish, the Portuguese, and all the other people who have 
come amongst us since the Revolution, he reconstructs 
his construction. In his last speech he tells us it meant 

I press him a little further, and ask if it meant to include the 
Russians in Asia? or does he mean to exclude that vast popula- 
tion from the principles of our Declaration of Independence? 
I expect ere long he will introduce another amendment to his 
definition. He is not at all particular. He is satisfied with 
anything which does not endanger the nationalizing of Negro 
slavery. It may draw white men down, but it must not lift 
Negroes up. Who shall say, 'I am the superior, and you are the 

My declarations upon this subject of Negro slavery may be 
misrepresented, but cannot be misunderstood. I have said that 
I do not understand the Declaration to mean that all men were 
created equal in all respects. They are not our equal in colour; 
but I suppose that it does mean to declare that all men are equal 
in some respects ; they are equal in their right to ' life, liberty, and 
the pursuit of happiness.' Certainly the Negro is not our equal 
in colour — perhaps not in many other respects ; still, in the right 
to put into his mouth the bread that his own hands have earned, 
he is the equal of every other man, white or black. In pointing 
out that more has been given you, you cannot be justified in 
taking away the little which has been given him. All I ask for 
the Negro is that if you do not like him, let him alone. If God 
gave him but little, that little let him enjoy. 

When our government was established, we had the institution 
of slavery among us. We were in a certain sense compelled to 
tolerate its existence. It was a sort of necessity. We had gone 
through our struggle and secured our own independence. The 
framers of the Constitution found the institution of slavery 
amongst their other institutions at the time. They found that by 
an effort to eradicate it, they might lose much of what they had 
already gained. They were obliged to bow to the necessity. 
They gave power to Congress to abolish the slave trade at the 
end of twenty years. They also prohibited it in the territories 
where it did not exist. They did what they could and yielded to 
the necessity for the rest. I also yield to all which follows from 


that necessity. What I would most desire would be the separa- 
tion of the white and black races. 

One more point on this Springfield speech which Judge 
Douglas says he has read so carefully. 1 expressed my belief in 
the existence of a conspiracy to perpetuate and nationalize 
slavery. I did not profess to know it, nor do I know. I showed 
the part Judge Douglas had played in the string of facts con- 
stituting, to my mind, the proof of that conspiracy. I showed the 
parts played by others. 

I charged that the people had been deceived into carrying the 
last presidential election, by the impression that the people of the 
territories might exclude slavery if they chose, when it was 
known in advance by the conspirators that the court was to 
decide that neither Congress nor the people could so exclude 
slavery. These charges are more distinctly made than anything 
else in the speech. 

Judge Douglas has carefully read and re-read that speech. He 
has not, so far as I know, contradicted those charges. In the 
two speeches which I heard he certainly did not. On his 
own tacit admission I renew that charge. I charge him with 
having been a party to that conspiracy and to that deception for 
the sole purpose of nationalizing slavery. 

Letter to Stephen A. Douglas. 

Chicago, 24th July 1858. 

My Dear Sir: Will it be agreeable to you to make an arrange- 
ment for you and myself to divide time, and address the same 
audiences during the present canvass? Mr Judd, 1 who will hand 
you this, is authorized to receive your answer; and, if agreeable 
to you, to enter into the terms of such arrangement. Your 
Obt. Servt. 

Letter to Stephen A. Douglas. 

Springfield, 31st July 1858. 

Dear Sir: Yours of yesterday, naming places, times, and 
terms, for joint discussions between us, was received this morning. 

1 Norman B. Judd, chairman of the Republican State Central Committee. 


Although, by the terms, as you propose, you take four openings 
and closes to my three, I accede, ahd thus close the arrangement. 
I direct this to you at Hillsboro ; and shall try to have both your 
letter and this appear in the Journal and Register of Monday 
morning. Your Obt. Servt 

From Lincoln's reply to Douglas in the first joint debate. 

Ottawa, Illinois, 21st August 1858. 

... I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no 
purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of 
slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful 
right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no 
purpose to introduce political and social equality between the 
white and the black races. There is a physical difference between 
the two, which in my judgment will probably forever forbid their 
living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch 
as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well 
as Judge Douglas, am in favour of the race to which I belong, 
having the superior position. I have never said anything to the 
contrary, but I hold that notwithstanding all this, there is no 
reason in the world why the Negro is not entitled to all the natural 
rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right 
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is 
as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge 
Douglas he is not my equal in many respects — certainly not in 
colour, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But 
in the right to eat the bread, without leave of anybody else, which 
his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, 
and the equal of every living man. 

Now I pass on to consider one or two more of these little 
follies. The Judge is woefully at fault about his early friend 
Lincoln being a 'grocery keeper.' I don't know as it would be a 
great sin if I had been, but he is mistaken. Lincoln never kept 
a grocery 1 anywhere in the world. It is true that Lincoln did 
work the latter part of one winter in a small still house, up at the 
head of a hollow. And so I think my friend, the Judge, is 
equally at fault when he charges me at the time when I was in 

1 A now obsolete term for a tavern or dram shop. 


Congress of having opposed our soldiers who were righting in 
the Mexican War. The Judge did not make his charge very 
distinctly but I can tell you what he can prove by referring to the 
record. You remember I was an old Whig, and whenever the 
Democratic party tried to get me to vote that the war had been 
righteously begun by the President, I would not do it. But 
whenever they asked for any money, or land warrants, or any- 
thing to pay the soldiers there, during all that time, I gave the 
same votes that Judge Douglas did. You can think as you 
please as to whether that was consistent. Such is the truth, and 
the Judge has the right to make all he can out of it. But when 
he, by a general charge, conveys the idea that I withheld supplies 
from the soldiers who were fighting in the Mexican War, or did 
anything else to hinder the soldiers, he is, to say the least, grossly 
and altogether mistaken, as a consultation of the records will 
prove to him. 

As I have not used up so much of my time as I had supposed, 
I will dwell a little longer upon one or two of these minor topics 
upon which the Judge has spoken. He has read from my speech 
in Springfield, in which I say that ' a house divided against itself 
cannot stand.' Does the Judge say it can stand? I don't know 
whether he does or not. The Judge does not seem to be attend- 
ing to me just now, but I would like to know if it is his opinion 
that a house divided against itself can stand. If he does, then 
there is a question of veracity, not between him and me, but 
between the Judge and an authority of a somewhat higher 

Now, my friends, I ask your attention to this matter for the 
purpose of saying something seriously. I know that the Judge 
may readily enough agree with me that the maxim which was put 
forth by the Saviour is true, but he may allege that I misapply it; 
and the Judge has a right to urge that, in my application, I do 
misapply it, and then I have a right to show that I do not mis- 
apply it. When he undertakes to say that because I think this 
nation, so far as the question of slavery is concerned, will all 
become one thing or all the other, I am in favour of bringing about 
a dead uniformity in the various states, in all their institutions, he 
argues erroneously. The great variety of the local institutions in 
the states, springing from differences in the soil, differences in the 
face of the country, and in the climate, are bonds of union. They 


do not make 'a house divided against itself,' but they make a 
house united. If they produce in one section of the country what 
is called for by the wants of another section, and this other 
section can supply the wants of the first, they are not matters of 
discord but bonds of union, true bonds of union. But can this 
question of slavery be considered as among these varieties in the 
institutions of the country? I leave it to you to say whether, in 
the history of our government, this institution of slavery has not 
always failed to be a bond of union, and, on the contrary, been 
an apple of discord and an element of division in the house. I 
ask you to consider whether, so long as the moral constitution of 
men's minds shall continue to be the same, after this generation 
and assemblage shall sink into the grave, and another race shall 
arise, with the same moral and intellectual development we have 
— whether, if that institution is standing in the same irritating 
position in which it now is, it will not continue an element of 
division? If so, then I have a right to say that in regard to this 
question, the Union is a house divided against itself, and when the 
Judge reminds me that I have often said to him that the institu- 
tion of slavery has existed for eighty years in some states, and yet 
it does not exist in some others, I agree to the fact, and I account 
for it by looking at the position in which our fathers originally 
placed it — restricting it from the new territories where it had not 
gone, and legislating to cut off its source by the abrogation of the 
slave trade, thus putting the seal of legislation against its spread. 
The public mind did rest in the belief that it was in the course of 
ultimate extinction. But lately, I think — and in this I charge 
nothing on the Judge's motives — lately, I think that he, and those 
acting with him, have placed that institution on a new basis, 
which looks to the perpetuity and nationalization of slavery. 
And while it is placed upon this new basis, I say, and I have said, 
that I believe we shall not have peace upon the question until 
the opponents of slavery arrest the further spread of it, and place 
it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the 
course of ultimate extinction; or, on the other hand, that its 
advocates will push it forward until it shall become alike lawful 
in all the states, old as well as new, north as well as south. Now, 
I believe if we could arrest the spread, and place it where Wash- 
ington, and Jefferson, and Madison placed it, it would be in the 
course of ultimate extinction, and the public mind would, as for 


eighty years past, believe that it was in the course of ultimate 
extinction. The crisis would be past and the institution might be 
let alone for a hundred years, if it should live so long, in the states 
where it exists, yet it would be going out of existence in the way 
best for both the black and the white races. 

A Voice: Then do you repudiate Popular Sovereignty? 

Mr Lincoln: Well, then, let us talk about Popular Sover- 
eignty! What is Popular Sovereignty? Is it the right of the 
people to have slavery or not have it, as they see fit, in the terri- 
tories? I will state — and I have an able man to watch me — my 
understanding is that Popular Sovereignty, as now applied to the 
question of slavery, does allow the people of a territory to have 
slavery if they want to, but does not allow them not to have it 
if they do not want it. I do not mean that if this vast concourse 
of people were in a territory of the United States, any one of 
them would be obliged to have a slave if he did not want one; 
but I do say that, as I understand the Dred Scott decision, if any 
one man wants slaves, all the rest have no way of keeping that 
one man from holding them. 

When I made my speech at Springfield, of which the Judge 
complains, and from which he quotes, I really was not thinking 
of the things which he ascribes to me at all. I had no thought in 
the world that I was doing anything to bring about a war between 
the free and slave states. I had no thought in the world that I 
was doing anything to bring about a political and social equality 
of the black and white races. It never occurred to me that I 
was doing anything or favouring anything to reduce to a dead 
uniformity all the local institutions of the various states. But I 
must say, in all fairness to him, if he thinks I am doing something 
which leads to these bad results, it is none the better that I did 
not mean it. It is just as fatal to the country, if I have any 
influence in producing it, whether I intend it or not. But can it 
be true, that placing this institution upon the original basis — the 
basis upon which our fathers placed it — can have any tendency 
to set the northern and the southern states at war with one 
another, or that it can have any tendency to make the people 
of Vermont raise sugarcane, because they raise it in Louisiana, 
or that it can compel the people of Illinois to cut pine logs on the 
Grand Prairie, where they will not grow, because they cut pine 
logs in Maine, where they do grow? The Judge says this is a 


new principle started in regard to this question. Does the Judge 
claim that he is working on the plan of the founders of govern- 
ment? I think he says in some of his speeches — indeed I have 
one here now — that he saw evidence of a policy to allow slavery 
to be south of a certain line, while north of it it should be ex- 
cluded, and he saw an indisposition on the part of the country 
to stand upon that policy, and therefore he set about studying the 
subject upon original principles, and upon original principles he 
got up the Nebraska bill! I am fighting it upon these 'original 
principles' — fighting it in the Jeffersonian, Washingtonian, and 
Madisonian fashion. 

Now, my friends, I wish you to attend for a little while to one 
or two other things in that Springfield speech. My main object 
was to show, so far as my humble ability was capable of showing 
to the people of this country, what I believed was the truth — 
that there was a tendency, if not a conspiracy among those who 
have engineered this slavery question for the last four or five 
years, to make slavery perpetual and universal in this nation. . . . 

... I want to ask your attention to a portion of the Nebraska 
bill, which Judge Douglas has quoted: 'It being the true intent 
and meaning of this act, not to legislate slavery into any territory 
or state, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people 
thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institu- 
tions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the 
United States.' Thereupon Judge Douglas and others began to 
argue in favour of ' Popular Sovereignty' — the right of the people 
to have slaves if they wanted them, and to exclude slavery if they 
did not want them. 'But,' said, in substance, a Senator from 
Ohio (Mr Chase, I believe), 'we more than suspect that you do 
not mean to allow the people to exclude slavery if they wish to, 
and if you do mean it, accept an amendment which I propose 
expressly authorizing the people to exclude slavery.' I believe 
I have the amendment here before me, which was offered, and 
under which the people of the territory, through their proper 
representatives, might if they saw fit, prohibit the existence of 
slavery therein. And now I state it as a. fact, to be taken back if 
there is any mistake about it, that Judge Douglas and those 
acting with him, voted that amendment down. I now think that 
those men who voted it down, had a real reason for doing so. 
They know what that reason was. It looks to us, since we have 

100 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

seen the Dred Scott decision pronounced holding that ' under the 
Constitution' the people cannot exclude slavery — I say it looks 
to outsiders, poor, simple, 'amiable, intelligent gentlemen,' as 
though the niche was left as a place to put that Dred Scott 
decision in — a niche which would have been spoiled by adopting 
the amendment. And now, I say again, if this was not the 
reason, it will avail the Judge much more to calmly and good- 
humouredly point out to these people what that other reason was 
for voting the amendment down, than, swelling himself up, to 
vociferate that he may be provoked to call somebody a liar. 

Again, there is in that same quotation from the Nebraska bill 
this clause: 'It being the true intent and meaning of this bill not 
to legislate slavery into any territory or state.'* I have always 
been puzzled to know what business the word 'state' had in that 
connection. Judge Douglas knows. He put it there. He knows 
what he put it there for. We outsiders cannot say what he put 
it there for. The law they were passing was not about states, 
and was not making provisions for states. What was it placed 
there for? After seeing the Dred Scott decision, which holds 
that the people cannot exclude slavery from a territory, if 
another Dred Scott decision shall come, holding that they cannot 
exclude it from a state, we shall discover that when the word was 
originally put there, it was in view of something which was to 
come in due time, we shall see that it was the other half of some- 
thing. I now say again, if there is any different reason for put- 
ing it there, Judge Douglas, in a good-humoured way, without 
calling anybody a liar, can tell what the reason was. . . . 

. . . One more word and I am done. Henry Clay, my beau 
ideal of a statesman, the man for whom I fought all my humble 
life — Henry Clay once said of a class of men who would repress 
all tendencies to liberty and ultimate emancipation, that they 
must, if they would do this, go back to the era of our indepen- 
dence, and muzzle the cannon which thunders its annual joyous 
return ; they must blow out the moral lights around us ; they must 
penetrate the human soul, and eradicate there the love of liberty ; 
and then and not till then, could they perpetuate slavery in this 
country ! To my thinking, Judge Douglas is, by his example and 
vast influence, doing that very thing in this community, when he 
says that the Negro has nothing in the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence. Henry Clay plainly understood the contrary. Judge 


Douglas is going back to the era of our Revolution, and to the 
extent of his ability, muzzling the cannon which thunders its 
annual joyous return. When he invites any people willing to 
have slavery, to establish it, he is blowing out the moral lights 
around us. When he says he 'cares not whether slavery is voted 
down or voted up' — that it is a sacred right of self government — 
he is in my judgment penetrating the human soul and eradicating 
the light of reason and the love of liberty in this American people. 
And now I will only say that when, by all these means and 
appliances, Judge Douglas shall succeed in bringing public 
sentiment to an exact accordance with his own views — when 
these vast assemblages shall echo back all these sentiments — 
when they shall come to repeat his views and to avow his prin- 
ciples, and to say all that he says on these mighty questions — 
then it needs only the formality of the second Dred Scott decision, 
which he endorses in advance, to make slavery alike lawful in all 
the states — old as well as new, north as well as south. . . . 

From Lincoln's opening speech in the second joint debate. 

Freeport, Illinois, 27th August 1858. 

Now, my friends, it will be perceived upon an examination of 
these questions and answers, that so far I have only answered that 
I was not pledged to this, that, or the other. The Judge has not 
framed his interrogatories to ask me anything more than this, and 
I have answered in strict accordance with the interrogatories, 
and have answered truly that I am not pledged at all upon any of 
the points to which I have answered. But I am not disposed to 
hang upon the exact form of his interrogatory. I am rather 
disposed to take up at least some of these questions, and state 
what I really think upon them. 

As to the first one, in regard to the Fugitive Slave law, I have 
never hesitated to say, and I do not now hesitate to say, that I 
think, under the Constitution of the United States, the people of 
the southern states are entitled to a congressional Fugitive Slave 
law. Having said that, I have had nothing to say in regard to 
the existing Fugitive Slave law further than that I think it should 
have been framed so as to be free from some of the objections 
that pertain to it, without lessening its efficiency. And inasmuch 


as we are not now in an agitation in regard to an alteration or 
modification of that law, I would not be the man to introduce 
it as a new subject of agitation upon the general question of 

In regard to the other question of whether I am pledged to the 
admission of any more slave states into the Union, I state to you 
very frankly that I would be exceedingly sorry ever to be put in 
a position of having to pass upon that question. I should be 
exceedingly glad to know that there would never be another slave 
state admitted into the Union ; but I must add, that if slavery shall 
be kept out of the territories during the territorial existence of 
any one given territory, and then the people shall, having a fair 
chance and a clear field, when they come to adopt the constitu- 
tion, do such an extraordinary thing as to adopt a slave con- 
stitution, uninfluenced by the actual presence of the institution 
among them, I see no alternative, if we own the country, but to 
admit them into the Union. 

The third interrogatory is answered by the answer to the 
second, it being, as I conceive, the same as the second. 

The fourth one is in regard to the abolition of slavery in the 
District of Columbia. In relation to that, I have my mind very 
distinctly made up. I should be exceedingly glad to see slavery 
abolished in the District of Columbia. I believe that Congress 
possesses the constitutional power to abolish it. Yet as a 
member of Congress, I should not with my present views, be in 
favour, of endeavouring to abolish slavery in the District of 
Columbia, unless it would be upon these conditions. First, 
that the abolition should be gradual. Second, that it should be 
on a vote of the majority of qualified voters in the District, and 
third, that compensation should be made to unwilling owners. 
With these three conditions, I confess I would be exceedingly 
glad to see Congress abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, 
and, in the language of Henry Clay, 'sweep from our Capital 
that foul blot upon our nation.' 

In regard to the fifth interrogatory, I must say here, that as to 
the question of the abolition of the slave trade between the 
different states, I can truly answer, as I have, that I am pledged 
to nothing about it. It is a subject to which I have not given 
that mature consideration that would make me feel authorized 
to state a position so as to hold myself entirely bound by it. In 


other words, that question has never been prominently enough 
before me to induce me to investigate whether we really have the 
constitutional power to do it. I could investigate it if I had 
sufficient time to bring myself to a conclusion upon that subject, 
but I have not done so, and I say so frankly to you here, and to 
Judge Douglas. I must say, however, that if I should be of 
opinion that Congress does possess the constitutional power to 
abolish the slave trade among the different states, I should still 
not be in favour of the exercise of that power unless upon some 
conservative principle as I conceive it, akin to what I have said 
in relation to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. 

My answer as to whether I desire that slavery should be pro- 
hibited in all the territories of the United States is full and explicit 
within itself, and cannot be made clearer by any comments of 
mine. So I suppose in regard to the question whether I am 
opposed to the acquisition of any more territory unless slavery 
is first prohibited therein, my answer is such that I could add 
nothing by way of illustration, or making myself better under- 
stood, than the answer which I have placed in writing. 

Now in all this, the Judge has me and he has me on the record. 
I suppose he had flattered himself that I was really entertaining 
one set of opinions for one place and another set for another 
place — that I was afraid to say at one place what I uttered at 
another. What I am saying here I suppose I say to a vast 
audience as strongly tending to abolitionism as any audience in 
the state of Illinois, and I believe I am saying that which, if it 
would be offensive to any persons and render them enemies to 
myself, would be offensive to persons in this audience. 

I now proceed to propound to the Judge the interrogatories, so 
far as I have framed them. I will bring forward a new instalment 
when I get them ready. I will bring them forward now, only 
reaching to number four. 

The first one is — 

Question 1 . If the people of Kansas shall, by means entirely 
unobjectionable in all other respects, adopt a state constitution, 
and ask admission into the Union under it, before they have the 
requisite number of inhabitants according to the English bill — 
some ninety-three thousand — will you vote to admit them? 

Question 2. Can the people of a United States territory, in any 
lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United States* 


exclude slavery from its limits prior to the formation of a state 

Question 3. If the Supreme Court of the United States shall 
decide that states cannot exclude slavery from their limits, are 
you in favour of acquiescing in, adopting, and following such 
decision as a rule of political action? 

Question 4. Are you in favour of acquiring additional terri- 
tory, in disregard of how such acquisition may affect the nation 
on the slavery question? . . . 

From Lincoln's reply in the third joint debate. 

Jonesboro, Illinois, 15th September 1858. 

At Freeport I answered several interrogatories that had been 
propounded to me by Judge Douglas at the Ottawa meeting. 
The Judge has yet not seen fit to find any fault with the position 
that I took in regard to those seven interrogatories, which were 
certainly broad enough, in all conscience, to cover the entire 
ground. In my answers, which have been printed, and all have 
had the opportunity of seeing, I take the ground that those who 
elect me must expect that I will do nothing which is not in 
accordance with those answers. I have some right to assert that 
Judge Douglas has no fault to find with them. But he chooses 
to still try to thrust me upon different ground without paying 
any attention to my answers, the obtaining of which from me cost 
him so much trouble and concern. At the same time, I pro- 
pounded four interrogatories to him, claiming it as a right that 
he should answer as many interrogatories for me as 1 did for 
him, and I would reserve myself for a future instalment when I 
got them ready. The Judge in answering me upon that occasion 
put in what I suppose he intends as answers to all four of my 
interrogatories. The first one of these interrogatories I have 
before me, and it is in these words : 

' Question 1 . If the people of Kansas shall, by means entirely 
unobjectionable in all other respects, adopt a state constitution, 
and ask admission into the Union under it, before they have the 
requisite number of inhabitants according to the English bill — 
some ninety-three thousand — will you vote to admit them?' 

As I read the Judge's answer in the newspaper, and as I 


remember it as pronounced at the time, he does not give any 
answer which is equivalent to yes or no — I will or I won't. He 
answers at very considerable length, rather quarrelling with me 
for asking the question, and insisting that Judge Trumbull had 
done something that I ought to say something about; and finally 
getting out such statements as induce me to infer that he means 
to be understood he will, in that supposed case, vote for the 
admission of Kansas. I only bring this forward now for the 
purpose of saying that if he chooses to put a different construction 
upon his answer he may do it. But if he does not, I shall from 
this time forward assume that he will vote for the admission of 
Kansas in disregard of the English bill. He has the right to 
remove any misunderstanding I may have. I only mention it 
now that I may hereafter assume this to be the true construction 
of his answer, if he does not now choose to correct me. 

The second interrogatory that I propounded to him was 

1 Question 2. Can the people of a United States territory, in 
any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of the United 
States, exclude slavery from its limits prior to the formation 
of a state constitution?' 

To this Judge Douglas answered that they can lawfully exclude 
slavery from the territory prior to the formation of a constitution. 
He goes on to tell us how it can be done. As I understand him, 
he holds that it can be done by the territorial legislature refusing 
to make any enactments for the protection of slavery in the 
territory, and especially by adopting unfriendly legislation to it. 
For the sake of clearness I state it again : that they can exclude 
slavery from the territory, 1st, by withholding what he assumes to 
be an indispensable assistance to it in the way of legislation; 
and 2nd, by unfriendly legislation. If I rightly understand him, 
I wish to ask your attention for a while to his position. 

In the first place, the Supreme Court of the United States has 
decided that any congressional prohibition of slavery in the 
territories is unconstitutional — that they have reached this pro- 
position as a conclusion from their former proposition that the 
Constitution of the United States expressly recognizes property 
in slaves, and from that other constitutional provision that no 
person shall be deprived of property without due process of law. 
Hence they reach the conclusion that as the Constitution of the 


United States expressly recognizes property in slaves, and pro- 
hibits any person from being deprived of property without due 
process of law, to pass an act of Congress by which a man who 
owned a slave on one side of a line would be deprived of him if 
he took him on the other side, is depriving him of that property 
without due process of law. That I understand to be the decision 
of the Supreme Court. I understand also that Judge Douglas 
adheres most firmly to that decision ; and the difficulty is, how is 
it possible for any power to exclude slavery from the territory 
unless in violation of that decision? That is the difficulty. . . . 

I hold that the proposition that slavery cannot enter a new 
country without police regulations is historically false. It is 
not true at all. I hold that the history of this country shows 
that the institution of slavery was originally planted upon this 
continent without these 'police regulations' which the Judge now 
thinks necessary for the actual establishment of it. Not only so, 
but is there not another fact — how came this Dred Scott decision 
to be made? It was made upon the case of a Negro being taken 
and actually held in slavery in Minnesota Territory, claiming his 
freedom because the act of Congress prohibited his being so 
held there. Will the Judge pretend that Dred Scott was not held 
there without police regulations ? There is at least one matter of 
record as to his having been held in slavery in the territory, not 
only without police regulations, but in the teeth of congressional 
legislation supposed to be valid at the time. This shows that 
there is vigour enough in slavery to plant itself in a new country 
even against unfriendly legislation. It takes not only law but the 
enforcement of law to keep it out. That is the history of this 
country upon the subject. 

I wish to ask one other question. It being understood that the 
Constitution of the United States guarantees property in slaves 
in the territories, if there is any infringement of the right of that 
property, would not the United States courts, organized for the 
government of the territory, apply such remedy as might be 
necessary in that case? It is a maxim held by the courts, that 
there is no wrong without its remedy; and the courts have a 
remedy for whatever is acknowledged and treated as a wrong. 

Again : I will ask you, my friends, if you were elected members 
of the legislature, what would be the first thing you would have 
to do before entering upon your duties? Swear to support the 


Constitution of the United States. Suppose you believe, as 
Judge Douglas does, that the Constitution of the United States 
guarantees to your neighbour the right to hold slaves in that 
territory — that they are his property — how can you clear your 
oaths unless you give him such legislation as is necessary to 
enable him to enjoy that property? What do you understand 
by supporting the Constitution of a state or of the United States? 
Is it not to give such constitutional helps to the rights established 
by that Constitution as may be practically needed? Can you, 
if you swear to support the Constitution, and believe that the 
Constitution establishes a right, clear your oath, without giving 
it support? Do you support the Constitution if, knowing or 
believing there is a right established under it which needs specific 
legislation, you withhold that legislation? Do you not violate 
and disregard your oath? I can conceive of nothing plainer in 
the world. There can be nothing in the words 'support the 
Constitution,' if you may run counter to it by refusing support 
to any right established under the Constitution. And what I 
say here will hold with still more force against the Judge's 
doctrine of 'unfriendly legislation.' How could you, having 
sworn to support the Constitution, and believing it guaranteed 
the right to hold slaves in the territories, assist in legislation 
intended to defeat that right! That would be violating your own 
view of the Constitution. Not only so, but if you were to do so, 
how long would it take the courts to hold your votes uncon- 
stitutional and void? Not a moment. 

Lastly I would ask — is not Congress itself under obligation 
to give legislative support to any right that is established under 
the United States Constitution? I repeat the question — is not 
Congress itself bound to give legislative support to any right 
that is established in the United States Constitution? A member 
of Congress swears to support the Constitution of the United 
States, and if he sees a right established by that Constitution 
which needs specific legislative protection, can he clear his oath 
without giving that protection? Let me ask you why many of 
us who are opposed to slavery upon principle give our acquies- 
cence to a fugitive slave law? Why do we hold ourselves under 
obligations to pass such a law, and abide by it when it is passed? 
Because the Constitution makes provision that the owners of 
slaves shall have the right to reclaim them. It gives the right to 

108 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

reclaim slaves, and that right is, as Judge Douglas says, a barren 
right, unless there is legislation that will enforce it. 

The mere declaration ' No person held to service or labour in 
one state under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in 
consequence of any law or regulation therein be discharged from 
such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the 
party to whom such service or labour may be due' is powerless 
without specific legislation to enforce it. Now on what ground 
would a member of Congress who is opposed to slavery in the 
abstract vote for a fugitive law, as I would deem it my duty to 
do? Because there is a constitutional right which needs legis- 
lation to enforce it. And although it is distasteful to me, I have 
sworn to support the Constitution, and having so sworn I cannot 
conceive that I do support it if I withheld from that right any 
necessary legislation to make it practical. And if that is true 
in regard to a fugitive slave law, is the right to have fugitive 
slaves reclaimed any better fixed in the Constitution than the 
right to hold slaves in the territories? For this decision is a 
just exposition of the Constitution as Judge Douglas thinks. Is 
the one right any better than the other? Is there any man who 
while a member of Congress would give support to the one any 
more than the other? If I wished to refuse to give legislative 
support to slave property in the territories, if a member of 
Congress, I could not do it holding the view that the Constitution 
establishes that right. If I did it at all, it would be because I deny 
that this decision properly construes the Constitution. But if I 
acknowledge with Judge Douglas that this decision properly 
construes the Constitution, I cannot conceive that I would be 
less than a perjured man if I should refuse in Congress to give 
such protection to that property as in its nature it needed. . . . 

From Lincoln's opening speech in the fourth joint debate. 

Charleston, Illinois, 18th September 1858. 

While I was at the hotel to-day an elderly gentleman called 
upon me to know whether I was really in favour of producing a 
perfect equality between the Negroes and white people. While 
I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on 
that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 109 

occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. 
I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favour of 
bringing about in any way the social and political equality of 
the white and black races — that I am not nor ever have been in 
favour of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying 
them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I 
will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference 
between the white and black races which 1 believe will forever 
forbid the two races living together on terms of social and 
political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while 
they do remain together there must be the position of superior 
and inferior, and 1 as much as any other man am in favour of 
having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say 
upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man 
is to have the superior position the Negro should be denied 
everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a 
Negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. 
My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in 
my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman 
for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for 
us to get along without making either slaves or wives of Negroes. 
I will add to this that I have never seen to my knowledge a man, 
woman, or child who was in favour of producing a perfect 
equality, social and political, between Negroes and white men. 
I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of 
so frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness — and 
that is the case of Judge Douglas's old friend Col. Richard M. 
Johnson. 1 I will also add to the remarks I have made (for 
I am not going to enter at large upon this subject), that I have 
never had the least apprehension that I or my friends would 
marry Negroes if there was no law to keep them from it, but as 
Judge Douglas and his friends seem to be in great apprehension 
that they might, if there were no law to keep them from it, I 
give him the most solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand 
by the law of this state, which forbids the marrying of white 
people with Negroes. I will add one further word, which is this, 

1 Democratic Representative and Senator from Kentucky, Vice-President 
of the United States, 1837-41. According to T. P. Abernethy in the 
Dictionary of American Biography, Johnson 'never married, but had two 
daughters by Julia Chinn, a mulatto who came to him in the distribution 
of his father's estate.' 


that I do not understand there is any place where an alteration of 
the social and political relations of the Negro and the white man 
can be made except in the state legislature — not in the Congress 
of the United States — and as I do not really apprehend the 
approach of any such thing myself, and as Judge Douglas seems 
to be in constant horror that some such danger is rapidly 
approaching, I propose as the best means to prevent it that the 
Judge be kept at home and placed in the state legislature to fight 
the measure. I do not propose dwelling longer at this time on 
this subject. . . . 

From Lincoln's reply in the fifth joint debate. 

Galesburg, Illinois, 7th October 1858. 

The Judge has alluded to the Declaration of Independence, and 
insisted that Negroes are not included in that Declaration ; and 
that it is a slander upon the framers of that instrument to suppose 
that Negroes were meant therein; and he asks you: Is it possible 
to believe that Mr Jefferson, who penned the immortal paper, 
could have supposed himself applying the language of that 
instrument to the Negro race, and yet held a portion of that race 
in slavery? Would he not at once have freed them? I only 
have to remark upon this part of the Judge's speech (and that, 
too, very briefly, for I shall not detain myself, or you, upon that 
point for any great length of time), that I believe the entire 
records of the world, from the date of the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence up to within three years ago, may be searched in vain for 
one single affirmation, from one single man, that the Negro was 
not included in the Declaration of Independence. I think I may- 
defy Judge Douglas to show that he ever said so, that Washing- 
ton ever said so, that any President ever said so, that any member 
of Congress ever said so, or that any living man upon the whole 
earth ever said so, until the necessities of the present policy of 
the Democratic party, in regard to slavery, had to invent that 
affirmation. And I will remind Judge Douglas and this audience, 
that while Mr Jefferson was the owner of slaves, as undoubtedly 
he was, in speaking upon this very subject, he used the strong 
language that ' be trembled for his country when he remembered 
that God was just'; and I will offer the highest premium in my 


power to Judge Douglas if he will show that he, in all his life, 
ever uttered a sentiment at all akin to that of Jefferson. . . 

The Judge has also detained us a while in regard to the dis- 
tinction between his party and our party. His he assumes to be 
a national party — ours, a sectional one. He does this in asking 
the question whether this country has any interest in the main- 
tenance of the Republican party? He assumes that our party 
is altogether sectional — that the party to which he adheres is 
national; and the argument is, that no party can be a rightful 
party — can be based upon rightful principles — unless it can 
announce its principles everywhere. I presume that Judge 
Douglas could not go into Russia and announce the doctrine of 
our national democracy ; he could not denounce the doctrine of 
kings, and emperors, and monarchies, in Russia; and it may be 
true of this country, that in some places we may not be able to 
proclaim a doctrine as clearly true as the truth of democracy, 
because there is a section so directly opposed to it that they will 
not tolerate us in doing so. Is it the true test of the soundness of 
a doctrine, that in some places people won't let you proclaim it? 
Is that the way to test the truth of any doctrine? Why, I under- 
stood that at one time the people of Chicago would not let 
Judge Douglas preach a certain favourite doctrine of his. I 
commend to his consideration the question, whether he takes 
that as a test of the unsoundness of what he wanted to preach. 

There is another thing to which I wish to ask attention for a 
little while on this occasion. What has always been the evidence 
brought forward to prove that the Republican party is a sectional 
party? The main one was that in the southern portion of the 
Union the people did not let the Republicans proclaim their 
doctrine amongst them. That has been the main evidence 
brought forward — that they had no supporters, or substantially 
none, in the slave states. The South have not taken hold of our 
principles as we announce them; nor does Judge Douglas now 
grapple with those principles. We have a Republican State 
platform, laid down in Springfield in June last, stating our 
position all the way through the questions before the country. 
We are now far advanced in this canvass. Judge Douglas and 
I have made perhaps forty speeches apiece, and we have now for 
the fifth time met face to face in debate, and up to this day I have 
not found either Judge Douglas or any friend of his taking hold 

112 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

of the Republican platform or laying his finger upon anything 
in it that is wrong. I ask you all to recollect that. 

Judge Douglas turns away from the platform of principles 
to the fact that he can find people somewhere who will not allow 
us to announce those principles. If he had great confidence 
that our principles were wrong, he would take hold of them and 
demonstrate them to be wrong. But he does not do so. The 
only evidence he has of their being wrong is in the fact that there 
are people who won't allow us to preach them. I ask again, is 
that the way to test the soundness of a doctrine? . . . 

The Judge tells, in proceeding, that he is opposed to making 
any odious distinctions between free and slave states. I am 
altogether unaware that the Republicans are in favour of making 
any odious distinctions between the free and slave states. But 
there still is a difference, 1 think, between Judge Douglas and the 
Republicans in this. I suppose that the real difference between 
Judge Douglas and his friends, and the Republicans on the 
contrary, is that the Judge is not in favour of making any dif- 
ference between slavery and liberty — that he is in favour of 
eradicating, of pressing out of view, the questions of preference 
in this country for free over slave institutions; and consequently 
every sentiment he utters discards the idea that there is any wrong 
in slavery. Everything that emanates from him or his coadjutors 
in their course of policy carefully excludes the thought that there 
is anything wrong in slavery. All their arguments, if you will 
consider them, will be seen to exclude the thought that there is 
anything whatever wrong in slavery. If you will take the Judge's 
speeches, and select the short and pointed sentences expressed 
by him — as his declaration that he ' don't care whether slavery is 
voted up or down' — you will see at once that this is perfectly 
logical, if you do not admit that slavery is wrong. If you do 
admit that it is wrong, Judge Douglas cannot logically say that 
he don't care whether a wrong is voted up or voted down. 
Judge Douglas declares that if any community want slavery they 
have a right to have it. He can say that logically, if he says that 
there is no wrong in slavery; but if you admit that there is a 
wrong in it, he cannot logically say that anybody has a right to do 
wrong. He insists that, upon the score of equality, the owners 
of slaves and owners of property — of horses and every other sort 
of property — should be alike and hold them alike in a new 


territory. That is perfectly logical, if the two species of property 
are alike and are equally founded in right. But if you admit that 
one of them is wrong, you cannot institute any equality between 
right and wrong. And from this difference of sentiment — the 
belief on the part of one that the institution is wrong, and a policy 
springing from that belief which looks to the arrest of the 
enlargement of that wrong; and this other sentiment, that it is 
no wrong, and a policy sprung from that sentiment which will 
tolerate no idea of preventing that wrong from growing larger, 
and looks to there never being an end of it through all the 
existence of things — arises the real difference between Judge 
Douglas and his friends, on the one hand, and the Republicans 
on the other. Now, I confess myself as belonging to that class 
in the country who contemplate slavery as a moral, social, and 
political evil, having due regard for its actual existence amongst 
us and the difficulties of getting rid of it in any satisfactory way, 
and to all the constitutional obligations which have been thrown 
about it; but, nevertheless, desire a policy that looks to the 
prevention of it as a wrong, and looks hopefully to the time when 
as a wrong it may come to an end. . . . 

From Lincoln's opening speech in the sixth joint debate. 

Quincy, Illinois, 13th October 1858. 

We have in this nation this element of domestic slavery. It is 
a matter of absolute certainty that it is a disturbing element. 
It is the opinion of all the great men who have expressed 
an opinion upon it, that it is a dangerous element. We keep 
up a controversy in regard to it. That controversy necessarily 
springs from difference of opinion, and if we can learn 
exactly — can reduce to the lowest elements — what that differ- 
ence of opinion is, we perhaps shall be better prepared for dis- 
cussing the different systems of policy that we would propose 
in regard to that disturbing element. I suggest that the difference 
of opinion, reduced to its lowest terms, is no other than the 
difference between the men who think slavery a wrong and those 
who do not think it wrong. The Republican party think it 
wrong — we think it is a moral, a social, and a political wrong. 
We think it is a wrong not confining itself merely to the persons 

E 206 


or the states where it exists, but that it is a wrong in its tendency, 
to say the least, that extends itself to the existence of the whole 
nation. Because we think it wrong, we propose a course of 
policy that shall deal with it as a wrong. We deal with it as 
with any other wrong, in so far as we can prevent its growing 
any larger and so deal with it that in the run of time there may be 
some promise of an end to it. We have a due regard to the actual 
presence of it amongst us and the difficulties of getting rid of it 
in any satisfactory way, and all the constitutional obligations 
thrown about it. I suppose that in reference both to its actual 
existence in the nation, and to our constitutional obligations, we 
have no right at all to disturb it in the states where it exists, and 
we profess that we have no more inclination to disturb it than 
we have the right to do it. We go further than that; we don't 
propose to disturb it where, in one instance, we think the Con- 
stitution would permit us. We think the Constitution would 
permit us to disturb it in the District of Columbia. Still we do 
not propose to do that, unless it should be in terms which I 
don't suppose the nation is very likely soon to agree to — the 
terms of making the emancipation gradual and compensating 
the unwilling owners. Where we suppose we have the constitu- 
tional right, we restrain ourselves in deference to the actual 
existence of the institution and the difficulties thrown about it. 
We also oppose it as an evil so far as it seeks to spread itself. 
We insist on the policy that shall restrict it to its present limits. 
We don't suppose that in doing this we violate anything due 
to the actual presence of the institution, or anything due to the 
constitutional guarantees thrown around it. 

I will say now that there is a sentiment in the country contrary 
to me — a sentiment which holds that slavery is not wrong, and 
therefore it goes for policy that does not propose dealing with it 
as a wrong. That policy is the Democratic policy, and that 
sentiment is the Democratic sentiment. If there be a doubt in 
the mind of any one of this vast audience that this is really the 
central idea of the Democratic party, in relation to this subject, 
I ask him to bear with me while I state a few things tending, as 
I think, to prove that proposition. In the first place, the leading 
man — I think I may do my friend Judge Douglas the honour of 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 115 

calling him such — advocating the present Democratic policy, 
never himself says it is wrong. He has the high distinction, so 
far as I know, of never having said slavery is either right or wrong. 
Almost everybody else says one or the other, but the Judge never 
does. If there be a man in the Democratic party who thinks it 
is wrong, and yet clings to that party, I suggest to him in the first 
place that his leader don't talk as he does, for he never says that 
it is wrong. In the second place, I suggest to him that if he will 
examine the policy proposed to be carried forward, he will find 
that he carefully excludes the idea that there is anything wrong in 
it. If you will examine the arguments that are made on it, you 
will find that everyone carefully excludes the idea that there is 
anything wrong in slavery. Perhaps that Democrat who says 
he is as much opposed to slavery as I am, will tell me that I am 
wrong about this. I wish him to examine his own course in 
regard to this matter a moment, and then see if his opinion will 
not be changed a little. You say it is wrong; but don't you 
constantly object to anybody else saying so? Do you not con- 
stantly argue that this is not the right place to oppose it? You say 
it must not be opposed in the free states, because slavery is not 
here ; it must not be opposed in the slave states, because it is there; 
it must not be opposed in politics, because that will make a fuss; 
it must not be opposed in the pulpit, because it is not religion. 
Then where is the place to oppose it? There is no suitable place 
to oppose it. There is no place in the country to oppose this evil 
overspreading the continent, which you say yourself is coming. 
Frank Blair and Gratz Brown tried to get up a system of gradual 
emancipation in Missouri, had an election in August and got beat, 
and you, Mr Democrat, threw up your hat, and halloed 'Hurrah 
for Democracy.' So I say again that in regard to the arguments 
that are made, when Judge Douglas says he ' don't care whether 
slavery is voted up or voted down,' whether he means that as an 
individual expression of sentiment, or only as a sort of statement 
of his views on national policy, it is alike true to say that he can 
thus argue logically if he don't see anything wrong in it; but he 
cannot say so logically if he admits that slavery is wrong. He 
cannot say that he would as soon see a wrong voted up as voted 
down. When Judge Douglas says that whoever, or whatever 
community, wants slaves, they have a right to have them, he is 
perfectly logical if there is nothing wrong in the institution; but 


if you admit that it is wrong, he cannot logically say that anybody 
has a right to do wrong. When he says that slave property and 
horse and hog property are alike to be allowed to go into the 
territories, upon the principles of equality, he is reasoning truly, 
if there is no difference between them as property ; but if the one 
is property, held rightfully, and the other is wrong, then there is 
no equality between the right and wrong; so that, turn it in any 
way you can, in all the arguments sustaining the Democratic 
policy, and in that policy itself, there is a careful, studied exclu- 
sion of the idea that there is anything wrong in slavery. Let us 
understand this. I am not, just here, trying to prove that we are 
right and they are wrong. I have been stating where we and they 
stand, and trying to show what is the real difference between us; 
and I now say that whenever we can get the question distinctly 
stated — can get all these men who believe that slavery is in some 
of these respects wrong, to stand and act with us in treating it 
as a wrong — then, and not till then, I think we will in some way 
come to an end of this slavery agitation. 

From Lincoln's reply in the seventh and last joint debate. 

Alton, Illinois, 15th October 1858. 

I have stated upon former occasions, and I may as well state 
again, what I understand to be the real issue in this controversy 
between Judge Douglas and myself. On the point of my wanting 
to make war between the free and the slave states, there has been 
no issue between us. So, too, when he assumes that I am in 
favour of introducing a perfect social and political equality 
between the white and black races. These are false issues, upon 
which Judge Douglas has tried to force the controversy. There 
is no foundation in truth for the charge that I maintain either of 
these propositions. The real issue in this controversy — the one 
pressing upon every mind — is the sentiment on the part of one 
class that looks upon the institution of slavery as a wrong, and 
of another class that does not look upon it as a wrong. The 
sentiment that contemplates the institution of slavery in this 
country as a wrong is the sentiment of the Republican party. It 
is the sentiment around which all their actions — all their argu- 
ments circle — from which all their propositions radiate. They 


look upon it as being a moral, social, and political wrong; and 
while they contemplate it as such, they nevertheless have due 
regard for its actual existence among us, and the difficulties of 
getting rid of it in any satisfactory way and to all the constitu- 
tional obligations thrown about it. Yet having a due regard for 
these, they desire a policy in regard to it that looks to its not 
creating any more danger. They insist that it should as far as 
may be, be treated as a wrong, and one of the methods of treating 
it as a wrong is to make provision that it shall grow no larger. 
They also desire a policy that looks to a peaceful end of slavery 
at some time, as being wrong. 

On the other hand, I have said there is a sentiment which treats 
it as not being wrong. That is the Democratic sentiment of this 
day. I do not mean to say that every man who stands within 
that range positively asserts that it is right. That class will 
include all who positively assert that it is right, and all who like 
Judge Douglas treat it as indifferent and do not say it is either 
right or wrong. These two classes of men fall within the general 
class of those who do not look upon it as a wrong. And if there 
be among you anybody who supposes that he as a Democrat can 
consider himself 'as much opposed to slavery as anybody,' I 
would like to reason with him. You never treat it as a wrong. 
What other thing that you consider as a wrong, do you deal with 
as you deal with that? Perhaps you say it is wrong, but your 
leader never does, and you quarrel with anybody who says it is 
wrong. Although you pretend to say so yourself you can find 
no fit place to deal with it as a wrong. You must not say any- 
thing about it in the free states, because it is not here. You must 
not say anything about it in the slave states, because it is there. 
You must not say anything about it in the pulpit, because that is 
religion and has nothing to do with it. You must not say 
anything about it in politics, because that will disturb the security 
of 'my place.' There is no place to talk about it as being a wrong, 
although you say yourself it is a wrong. 

That is the real issue. That is the issue that will continue in 
this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and 


myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two 
principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are 
the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning 
of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the 
common right of humanity and the other the divine right of 
kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops 
itself. It is the same spirit that says: 'You work and toil and 
earn bread, and I'll eat it.' No matter in what shape it comes, 
whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the 
people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labour, or 
from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, 
it is the same tyrannical principle. I was glad to express my 
gratitude at Quincy, and I re-express it here to Judge Douglas — 
that he looks to no end of the institution of slavery. That will 
help the people to see where the struggle really is. It will here- 
after place with us all men who really do wish the wrong may 
have an end. And whenever we can get rid of the fog which 
obscures the real question — when we can get Judge Douglas and 
his friends to avow a policy looking to its perpetuation — we can 
get out from among them that class of men and bring them to the 
side of those who treat it as a wrong. Then there will soon be 
an end of it, and that end will be its ' ultimate extinction.' When- 
ever the issue can be distinctly made, and all extraneous matter 
thrown out so that men can fairly see the real difference between 
the parties, this controversy will soon be settled, and it will be 
done peaceably too. There will be no war, no violence. It 
will be placed again where the wisest and best men of the world 
placed it. Brooks of South Carolina once declared that when 
this Constitution was framed, its framers did not look to the 
institution existing until this day. When he said this, I think 
he stated a fact that is fully borne out by the history of the times. 
But he also said they were better and wiser men than the men of 
these days ; yet the men of these days had experience which they 
had not, and by the invention of the cotton gin it became a 
necessity in this country that slavery should be perpetual. I 
now say that willingly or unwillingly, purposely or without 
purpose, Judge Douglas has been the most prominent instrument 
in changing the position of the institution of slavery which the 
fathers of the government expected to come to an end ere this — 
and putting it upon Brooks's cotton gin basis — placing it where he 


openly confesses he has no desire there shall ever be an end 
of it 

From Lincoln's last speech in the senatorial campaign. 

Springfield, 30th October 1858. 

My friends, to-day closes the discussions of this canvass. The 
planting and the culture are over; and there remains but the 
preparation and the harvest. 

I stand here surrounded by friends — some political, all personal 
friends, I trust. May I be indulged, in this closing scene, to say 
a few words of myself. I have borne a laborious, and, in some 
respects to myself, a painful part in the contest. Through all, 
I have neither assailed, nor wrestled with any part of the 
Constitution. The legal right of the Southern people to reclaim 
their fugitives I have constantly admitted. The legal right of 
Congress to interfere with their institution in the states I have 
constantly denied. In resisting the spread of slavery to new 
territory, and with that, what appears to me to be a tendency to 
subvert the first principle of free government itself, my whole 
effort has consisted. To the best of my judgment I have laboured 
for, and not against the Union. As I have not felt, so I have not 
expressed any harsh sentiment towards our southern brethren. 
I have constantly declared, as I really believed, the only difference 
between them and us is the difference of circumstances. 

I have meant to assail the motives of no party, or individual; 
and if I have, in any instance (of which I am not conscious) 
departed from my purpose, I regret it. 

I have said that in some respects the contest has been painful 
to me. Myself, and those with whom I act, have been constantly 
accused of a purpose to destroy the Union; and bespattered with 
every imaginable odious epithet; and some who were friends, as 
it were but yesterday, have made themselves most active in this. 
I have cultivated patience, and made no attempt at a retort. 

Ambition has been ascribed to me. God knows how sincerely 
I prayed from the first that this field of ambition might not be 
opened. I claim no insensibility to political honours ; but to-day 
could the Missouri restriction be restored, and the whole slavery 
question replaced on the old ground of 'toleration' by necessity 


where it exists, with unyielding hostility to the spread of it, on 
principle, I would, in consideration, gladly agree, that Judge 
Douglas should never be out, and I never in, an office, so long 
as we both or either, live. 

Letter to Henry Asbury. 

Springfield, 19th November 1858. 

My dear Sir: Yours of the 13th was received some days ago. 
The fight must go on. The cause of civil liberty must not be 
surrendered at the end of one, or even one hundred defeats. 
Douglas had the ingenuity to be supported in the late contest 
both as the best means to break down, and to uphold the slave 
interest. No ingenuity can keep those antagonistic elements in 
harmony long. Another explosion will soon come. Yours truly 

From a letter to Theodore Canisius, editor of the ''Illinois Staats- 

Springfield, 17th May 1859. 

Dear Sir: Your note asking, in behalf of yourself and other 
German citizens, whether I am for or against the constitutional 
provision in regard to naturalized citizens, lately adopted by 
Massachusetts ; and whether I am for or against a fusion of the 
Republicans and other opposition elements, for the canvass of 
1860, is received. 

Massachusetts is a sovereign and independent state; and it is 
no privilege of mine to scold her for what she does. Still, if 
from what she has done, an inference is sought to be drawn as to 
what I would do, I may, without impropriety, speak out. I say 
then, that, as I understand the Massachusetts provision, I am 
against its adoption in Illinois, or in any other place, where I 
have a right to oppose it. Understanding the spirit of our 
institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to 
whatever tends to degrade them. I have some little notoriety 
for commiserating the oppressed condition of the Negro; and I 
should be strangely inconsistent if 1 could favour any project 
for curtailing the existing rights of white men, even though born 
in different lands, and speaking different languages from 
myself. . . . 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 121 

From an address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society. 

Milwaukee, 30th September 1859. 

The world is agreed that labour is the source from which 
human wants are mainly supplied. There is no dispute upon this 
point. From this point, however, men immediately diverge. 
Much disputation is maintained as to the best way of applying 
and controlling the labour element. By some it is assumed that 
labour is available only in connection with capital — that nobody 
labours, unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow, by 
the use of that capital, induces him to do it. Having assumed 
this, they proceed to consider whether it is best that capital shall 
hire labourers, and thus induce them to work by their own con- 
sent; or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. 
Having proceeded so far they naturally conclude that all 
labourers are necessarily either hired labourers, or slaves. They 
further assume that whoever is once a hired labourer, is fatally 
fixed in that condition for life; and thence again that his condition 
is as bad as, or worse than, that of a slave. This is the * mud- 
silV theory. 

But another class of reasoners hold the opinion that there is no 
such relation between capital and labour, as assumed; and that 
there is no such thing as a freeman being fatally fixed for life, in 
the condition of a hired labourer, that both these assumptions 
are false, and all inferences from them groundless. They hold 
that labour is prior to, and independent of, capital ; that, in fact, 
capital is the fruit of labour, and could never have existed if 
labour had not first existed — that labour can exist without capital, 
but that capital could never have existed without labour. Hence 
they hold that labour is the superior — greatly the superior — of 

They do not deny that there is, and probably always will be, 
a relation between labour and capital. The error, as they hold, 
is in assuming that the whole labour of the world exists within 
that relation. A few men own capital; and that few avoid 
labour themselves, and with their capital hire, or buy, another 
few to labour for them. A large majority belong to neither 
class — neither work for others, nor have others working for 
them. Even in all our slave states, except South Carolina, a 
majority of the whole people of all colours, are neither slaves 

* E ao6 


nor masters. In these free states, a large majority are neither 
hirers nor hired. Men, with their families — wives, sons, and 
daughters — work for themselves, on their farms, in their houses, 
and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and 
asking no favours of capital on the one hand, nor of hirelings or 
slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable 
number of persons mingle their own labour with capital ; that is, 
labour with their own hands, and also buy slaves or hire freemen 
to labour for them; but this is only a mixed, and not a distinct 
class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this 
mixed class. Again, as has already been said, the opponents of 
the ' mud-still ' theory insist that there is not, of necessity, any 
such thing as the free hired labourer being fixed to that condition 
for life. There is demonstration for saying this. Many inde- 
pendent men, in this assembly, doubtless a few years ago were 
hired labourers. And their case is almost if not quite the general 

The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labours for wages 
awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for him- 
self; then labours on his own account another while, and at 
length hires another new beginner to help him. This, say its 
advocates, is free labour — the just and generous, and prosperous 
system, which opens the way for all — gives hope to all, and 
energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all. If 
any continue through life in the condition of the hired labourer, 
it is not the fault of the system but because of either a dependent 
nature which prefers it, or improvidence, folly, or singular mis- 
fortune. I have said this much about the elements of labour 
generally, as introductory to the consideration of a new phase 
which that element is in process of assuming. The old general 
rule was that educated people did not perform manual labour. 
They managed to eat their bread, leaving the toil of producing 
it to the uneducated. This was not an insupportable evil to the 
working bees, so long as the class of drones remained very small. 
But now, especially in these free states, nearly all are educated — 
quite too nearly all, to leave the labour of the uneducated, in any 
wise adequate to the support of the whole. It follows from 
this, that henceforth educated people must labour. Otherwise, 
education itself would become a positive and intolerable evil. 
No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage 


of its numbers. The great majority must labour at something 
productive. From these premises the problem springs, 'How 
can labour and education be the most satisfactorily combined?' 

By the 'mud-sill' theory it is assumed that labour and educa- 
tion are incompatible; and any practical combination of them 
impossible. According to that theory, a blind horse upon a 
treadmill is a perfect illustration of what a labourer should be — 
all the better for being blind, that he could not read out of place, 
or kick understandingly. According to that theory, the educa- 
tion of labourers is not only useless, but pernicious, and dan- 
gerous. In fact, it is, in some sort, deemed a misfortune that 
labourers should have heads at all. Those same heads are 
regarded as explosive materials, only to be safely kept in damp 
places, as far as possible from that peculiar sort of fire which 
ignites them. A Yankee who could invent a strong-handed man 
without a head would receive the everlasting gratitude of the 
'mud-sill' advocates. 

But Free Labour says ' no ! ' Free Labour argues that, as the 
Author of man makes every individual with one head and one 
pair of hands, it was probably intended that heads and hands 
should co-operate as friends ; and that that particular head should 
direct and control that particular pair of hands. As each man 
has one mouth to be fed, and one pair of hands to furnish food, 
it was probably intended that that particular pair of hands should 
feed that particular mouth — that each head is the natural guar- 
dian, director, and protector of the hands and mouth inseparably 
connected with it; and that being so, every head should be culti- 
vated, and improved, by whatever will add to its capacity for 
performing its charge. In one word, Free Labour insists on 
universal education. 

I have so far stated the opposite theories of 'Mud-Sill' and 
'Free Labour' without declaring any preference of my own 
between them. On an occasion like this I ought not to declare 
any. I suppose, however, I shall not be mistaken in assuming 
as a fact that the people of Wisconsin prefer free labour, with its 
natural companion, education. ... 


Letter to Jesse W. Fell, Bloomington, Illinois, with an autobio- 

Springfield, 20th December 1859. 

My dear Sir: Herewith is a little sketch, as you requested. 
There is not much of it, for the reason, I suppose, that there is 
not much of me. 

If anything be made out of it, I wish it to be modest, and not 
to go beyond the material. If it were thought necessary to 
incorporate anything from any of my speeches, I suppose there 
would be no objection. Of course it must not appear to have 
been written by myself. Yours very truly 

I was born 12th February 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. 
My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished 
families — second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, 
who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks, 
some of whom now reside in Adams, and others in Macon 
counties, Illinois. My paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, 
emigrated from Rockingham County, Virginia, to Kentucky, 
about 1781 or 1782, where, a year or two later, he was killed by 
Indians, not in battle, but by stealth when he was labouring to 
open a farm in the forest. His ancestors, who were Quakers, 
went to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylvania. An effort 
to identify them with the New England family of the same name 
ended in nothing more definite than a similarity of Christian 
names in both families, such as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon, 
Abraham, and the like. 

My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of age; 
and he grew up, literally without education. He removed from 
Kentucky to what is now Spencer County, Indiana, in my eighth 
year. We reached our new home about the time the state came 
into the Union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other 
wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up. There were 
some schools, so called ; but no qualification was ever required of 
a teacher, beyond 'readin, writin, and cipherin,' to the Rule 
of Three. If a straggler supposed to understand Latin happened 
to sojourn in the neighbourhood, he was looked upon as a 
wizard. There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for 
education. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. 


Still, somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of 
Three; but that was all. I have not been to school since. The 
little advance I now have upon this store of education, I have 
picked up from time to time under the pressure of necessity. 

I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was twenty- 
two. At twenty-one I came to Illinois, and passed the first year 
in Illinois — Macon County. Then I got to New Salem (at that 
time in Sangamon, now in Menard County), where I remained a 
year as a sort of clerk in a store. Then came the Black-Hawk 
War; and I was elected a Captain of Volunteers — a success which 
gave me more pleasure than any I have had since. I went the 
campaign, was elated [sic], ran for the legislature the same year 
(1832), and was beaten — the only time I have been beaten by the 
people. The next, and three succeeding biennial elections, I 
was elected to the legislature. I was not a candidate afterwards. 
During the legislative period I had studied law, and removed to 
Springfield to practice it. In 1846 I was once elected to the 
lower House of Congress. Was not a candidate for re-election. 
From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, practised law more 
assiduously than ever before. Always a Whig in politics, and 
generally on the Whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses. 
I was losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise aroused me again. What I have done since then 
is pretty well known. 

If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may 
be said I am, in height, six feet four inches, nearly ; lean in flesh, 
weighing, on an average, one hundred and eighty pounds ; dark 
complexion, with coarse black hair, and grey eyes — no other 
marks or brands recollected. Yours very truly 

From an address at Cooper Institute. 

New York City, 27th February 1860. 

. . . If any man at this day sincerely believes that a proper divi- 
sion of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitu- 
tion, forbids the federal government to control as to slavery in the 
federal territories, he is right to say so, and to enforce his position 
by all truthful evidence and fair argument which he can. But 
he has no right to mislead others, who have less access to history, 


and less leisure to study it, into the false belief that ' our fathers, 
who framed the government under which we live,' were of the 
same opinion — thus substituting falsehood and deception for 
truthful evidence and fair argument. If any man at this day 
sincerely believes ' our fathers who framed the government under 
which we live,' used and applied principles, in other cases, which 
ought to have led them to understand that a proper division of 
local from federal authority or some part of the Constitution, 
forbids the federal government to control as to slavery in the 
federal territories, he is right to say so. But he should, at the 
same time, brave the responsibility of declaring that, in his 
opinion, he understands their principles better than they did 
themselves ; and especially should he not shirk that responsibility 
by asserting that they 'understood the question just as well, and 
even better, than we do now.' 

But enough! Let all who believe that ' our fathers, who framed 
the government under which we live, understood this question just 
as well, and even better, than we do now' speak as they spoke, 
and act as they acted upon it. This is all Republicans ask — all 
Republicans desire — in relation to slavery. As those fathers 
marked it, so let it be again marked, as an evil not to be extended, 
but to be tolerated and protected only because of and so far as 
its actual presence among us makes that toleration and protection 
a necessity. Let all the guarantees those fathers gave it, be, not 
grudgingly, but fully and fairly maintained. For this Republicans 
contend, and with this, so far as I know or believe, they will be 

And now, if they would listen — as I suppose they will not — I 
would address a few words to the southern people. 

I would say to them: You consider yourselves a reasonable 
and just people; and I consider that in the general qualities of 
reason and justice you are not inferior to any other people. 
Still, when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to 
denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. 
You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like 
it to 'Black Republicans.' In all your contentions with one 
another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of 
'Black Republicanism' as the first thing to be attended to. 
Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable 
prerequisite — licence, so to speak — among you to be admitted or 


permitted to speak at all. Now, can you, or not, be prevailed 
upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, 
or even to yourselves? Bring forward your charges and specifi- 
cations, and then be patient long enough to hear us deny or 

You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an issue; 
and the burden of proof is upon you. You produce your proof; 
and what is it? Why, that our party has no existence in your 
section — gets no votes in your section. The fact is substantially 
true; but does it prove the issue? If it does, then in case we 
should, without change of principle, begin to get votes in your 
section, we should thereby cease to be sectional. You cannot 
escape this conclusion; and yet, are you willing to abide by it? 
If you are, you will probably soon find that we have ceased to 
be sectional, for we shall get votes in your section this very year. 
You will then begin to discover, as the truth plainly is, that your 
proof does not touch the issue. The fact that we get no votes in 
your section is a fact of your making, and not of ours. And if 
there be fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and 
remains so until you show that we repel you by some wrong 
principle or practice. If we do repel you by any wrong principle 
or practice, the fault is ours ; but this brings you to where you 
ought to have started — to a discussion of the right or wrong of 
our principle. If our principle, put in practice, would wrong 
your section for the benefit of ours, or for any other object, then 
our principle, and we with it, are sectional, and are justly opposed 
and denounced as such. Meet us, then, on the question of 
whether our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section; 
and so meet us as if it were possible that something may be said 
on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No! Then you 
really believe that the principle which ' our fathers who framed the 
government under which we live' thought so clearly right as to 
adopt it, and indorse it again and again, upon their official oaths, 
is in fact so clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation 
without a moment's consideration. 

Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against 
sectional parties given by Washington in his Farewell Address. 
Less than eight years before Washington gave that warning, he 
had, as President of the United States, approved and signed an 
Act of Congress, enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the 


North-western Territory, which act embodied the policy of the 
government upon that subject up to and at the very moment he 
penned that warning; and about one year after he penned it, he 
wrote Lafayette that he considered that prohibition a wise mea- 
sure, expressing in the same connection his hope that we should 
at some time have a confederacy of free states. 

Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has since 
arisen upon this same subject, is that warning a weapon in your 
hands against us, or in our hands against you? Could Washing- 
ton himself speak, would he cast the blame of that sectionalism 
upon us, who sustain his policy, or upon you who repudiate it? 
We respect that warning of Washington, and we commend it to 
you, together with his example pointing to the right application 
of it. 

But you say you are conservative — eminently conservative — 
while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. 
What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, 
against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the 
identical old policy on the point in controversy which was 
adopted by ' our fathers who framed the government under which 
we live'; while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit 
upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. 
True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute 
shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but 
you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy 
of the fathers. Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave 
trade; some for a congressional slave-code for the territories; 
some for Congress forbidding the territories to prohibit slavery 
within their limits ; some for maintaining slavery in the territories 
through the judiciary; some for the 'gur-reat pur-rinciple' that 
'if one man would enslave another, no third man should object,' 
fantastically called 'Popular Sovereignty'; but never a man 
among you in favour of federal prohibition of slavery in federal 
territories, according to the practice of ' our fathers who framed 
the government under which we live.' Not one of all your 
various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century 
within which our government originated. Consider, then, 
whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your 
charge of destructiveness against us, are based on the most clear 
and stable foundations. 


Again, you say we have made the slavery question more 
prominent than it formerly was. We deny it. We admit that 
it is more prominent, but we deny that we made it so. It was 
not we, but you, who discarded the old policy of the fathers. 
We resisted, and still resist, your innovation; and thence comes 
the greater prominence of the question. Would you have that 
question reduced to its former proportions? Go back to that 
old policy. What has been will be again, under the same con- 
ditions. If you would have the peace of the old times, readopt 
the precepts and policy of the old times. 

You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves. 
We deny it; and what is your proof? Harper's Ferry! John 
Brown! John Brown was no Republican; and you have failed 
to implicate a single Republican in his Harper's Ferry enterprise. 1 
If any member of our party is guilty in that matter, you know it 
or you do not know it. If you do know it, you are inexcusable 
for not designating the man and proving the fact. If you do not 
know it, you are inexcusable for asserting it, and especially for 
persisting in the assertion after you have tried and failed to make 
the proof. You need not be told that persisting in a charge 
which one does not know to be true, is simply malicious slander. 

Some of you admit that no Republican designedly aided or 
encouraged the Harper's Ferry affair; but still insist that our 
doctrines and declarations necessarily lead to such results. We 
do not believe it. We know we hold to no doctrine, and make 
no declaration, which were not held to and made by ' our fathers 
who framed the government under which we live.' You never 
dealt fairly by us in relation to this affair. When it occurred, 
some important state elections were near at hand, and you were 
in evident glee with the belief that, by charging the blame upon 
us you could get an advantage of us in those elections. The 
elections came, and your expectations were not quite fulfilled. 
Every Republican man knew that, as to himself at least, your 
charge was a slander, and he was not much inclined by it to cast 
his vote in your favour. Republican doctrines and declarations 
are accompanied with a continual protest against any interference 

1 Brown's fanatical raid on the United States armoury and arsenal at 
Harper's Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), on 16th-18th October 1859, 
which he hoped would start a slave insurrection. Convicted of treason 
to the State of Virginia and conspiracy, Brown was hanged on 2nd 
December 1859. 


whatever with your slaves, or with you about your slaves. 
Surely, this does not encourage them to revolt. True, we do, in 
common with 'our fathers, who framed the government under 
which we live,' declare our belief that slavery is wrong; but the 
slaves do not hear us declare even this. For anything we say or 
do, the slaves would scarcely know there is a Republican party. 
I believe they would not, in fact, generally know it but for your 
misrepresentations of us, in their hearing. In your political 
contests among yourselves, each faction charges the other with 
sympathy with Black Republicanism; and then, to give point to 
the charge, defines Black Republicanism to simply be insurrec- 
tion, blood and thunder among the slaves. 

Slave insurrections are no more common now than they were 
before the Republican party was organized. What induced the 
Southampton insurrection, twenty-eight years ago, in which, at 
least three times as many lives were lost as at Harper's Ferry? 
You can scarcely stretch your very elastic fancy to the conclusion 
that Southampton was ' got up by Black Republicanism.' In the 
present state of things in the United States, I do not think a 
general, or even a very extensive slave insurrection, is possible. 
The indispensable concert of action cannot be attained. The 
slaves have no means of rapid communication; nor can incen- 
diary freemen, black or white, supply it. The explosive materials 
are everywhere in parcels; but there neither are, nor can be 
supplied, the indispensable connecting trains. 

Much is said by southern people about the affection of slaves 
for their masters and mistresses ; and a part of it, at least, is true. 
A plot for an uprising could scarcely be devised and communi- 
cated to twenty individuals before some one of them, to save the 
life of a favourite master or mistress, would divulge it. This is 
the rule ; and the slave revolution in Haiti was not an exception 
to it, but a case occurring under peculiar circumstances. The 
gunpowder plot of British history, though not connected with 
slaves, was more in point. In that case, only about twenty were 
admitted to the secret; and yet one of them, in his anxiety to save 
a friend, betrayed the plot to that friend, and, by consequence, 
averted the calamity. Occasional poisonings from the kitchen, 
and open or stealthy assassinations in the field, and local revolts 
extending to a score or so, will continue to occur as the natural 
results of slavery; but no general insurrection of slaves, as I 


think, can happen in this country for a long time. Whoever 
much fears, or much hopes for such an event, will be alike 

In the language of Mr Jefferson, uttered many years ago, 'It 
is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation, and 
deportation, peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the 
evil will wear off insensibly; and their places be, pari passu, filled 
up by free white labourers. If, on the contrary, it is left to 
force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect 
held up.' 

Mr Jefferson did not mean to say, nor do I, that the power of 
emancipation is in the federal government. He spoke of 
Virginia; and, as to the power of emancipation, I speak of the 
slaveholding states only. The federal government, however, as 
we insist, has the power of restraining the extension of the 
institution — the power to insure that a slave insurrection shall 
never occur on any American soil which is now free from 

John Brown's effort was peculiar. It was not a slave insur- 
rection. It was an attempt by white men to get up a revolt 
among slaves, in which the slaves refused to participate. In 
fact, it was so absurd that the slaves, with all their ignorance, saw 
plainly enough it could not succeed. That affair, in its philo- 
sophy, corresponds with the many attempts, related in history, 
at the assassination of kings and emperors. An enthusiast 
broods over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself 
commissioned by Heaven to liberate them. He ventures the 
attempt, which ends in little else than his own execution. 
Orsini's attempt on Louis Napoleon, and John Brown's attempt 
at Harper's Ferry were, in their philosophy, precisely the same. 
The eagerness to cast blame on old England in the one case, 
and on New England in the other, does not disprove the sameness 
of the two things. 

And how much would it avail you, if you could, by the use of 
John Brown, Helper's book, 1 and the like, break up the Repub- 
lican organization? Human action can be modified to some 

1 The Impending Crisis of the South, by Hinton Rowan Helper (1857), 
was an anti-slavery argument, based on economics, by a North Carolinian. 
The book, and especially its endorsement by many prominent Republicans, 
unfuriated the South. 

132 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

extent, but human nature cannot be changed. There is a judg- 
ment and a feeling against slavery in this nation, which cast at 
least a million and a half of votes. You cannot destroy that 
judgment and feeling — that sentiment — by breaking up the 
political organization which rallies around it. You can scarcely 
scatter and disperse an army which has been formed into order 
in the face of your heaviest fire; but if you could, how much 
would you gain by forcing the sentiment which created it out of 
the peaceful channel of the ballot-box, into some other channel? 
What would that other channel probably be? Would the 
number of John Browns be lessened or enlarged by the operation? 

But you will break up the Union rather than submit to a denial 
of your constitutional rights. 

That has a somewhat reckless sound; but it would be palliated, 
if not fully justified, were we proposing, by the mere force of 
numbers, to deprive you of some right, plainly written down in 
the Constitution. But we are proposing no such thing. 

When you make these declarations, you have a specific and 
well-understood allusion to an assumed constitutional right 
of yours, to take slaves into the federal territories, and to hold 
them there as property. But no such right is specifically written 
in the Constitution. That instrument is literally silent about 
any such right. We, on the contrary, deny that such a right 
has any existence in the Constitution, even by implication. 

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is, that you will destroy 
the government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce 
the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between 
you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events. 

This, plainly stated, is your language. Perhaps you will say 
the Supreme Court has decided the disputed constitutional 
question in your favour. Not quite so. But waiving the law- 
yer's distinction between dictum and decision, the court have 
decided the question for you in a sort of way. The court have 
substantially said, it is your constitutional right to take slaves 
into the federal territories, and to hold them there as property. 
When I say the decision was made in a sort of way, I mean it 
was made in a divided court, by a bare majority of the Judges, 
and they not quite agreeing with one another in the reasons for 
making it; that it is so made as that its avowed supporters 
disagree with one another about its meaning, and that it was 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 133 

mainly based upon a mistaken statement of fact — the statement 
in the opinion that ' the right of property in a slave is distinctly 
and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.' 

An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of 
property in a slave is not 'distinctly and expressly affirmed' in it. 
Bear in mind, the Judges do not pledge their judicial opinion that 
such right is impliedly affirmed in the constitution; but they pledge 
their veracity that it is 'distinctly and expressly' affirmed there — 
distinctly,' that is, not mingled with anything else — 'expressly,' 
that is, in words meaning just that, without the aid of any 
inference, and susceptible of no other meaning. 

If they had only pledged their judicial opinion that such right 
is affirmed in the instrument by implication, it would be open to 
others to show that neither the word 'slave' nor 'slavery' is to 
be found in the Constitution, nor the word 'property' even, in 
any connection with language alluding to the things slave, or 
slavery, and that wherever in that instrument the slave is alluded 
to, he is called a 'person'; and wherever his master's legal right 
in relation to him is alluded to, it is spoken of as 'service or 
labour which may be due' — as a debt payable in service or labour. 
Also, it would be open to show, by contemporaneous history, 
that this mode of alluding to slaves and slavery, instead of 
speaking of them, was employed on purpose to exclude from the 
Constitution the idea that there could be property in man. 

To show all this is easy and certain. 

When this obvious mistake of the Judges shall be brought to 
their notice, is it not reasonable to expect that they will withdraw 
the mistaken statement, and reconsider the conclusion based 
upon it? 

And then it is to be remembered that ' our fathers, who framed 
the government under which we live' — the men who made the 
Constitution — decided this same constitutional question in our 
favour, long ago — decided it without division among themselves, 
when making the decision; without division among themselves 
about the meaning of it after it was made, and, so far as any 
evidence is left, without basing it upon any mistaken statement 
of facts. 

Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves 
justified to break up this government, unless such a court decision 
as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final 

134 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

rule of political action? But you will not abide the election of a 
Republican President ! In that supposed event, you say, you will 
destroy the Union ; and then, you say, the great crime of having 
destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman 
holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, 'Stand 
and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer ! ' 

To be sure, what the robber demanded of me — my money — 
was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no 
more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat of death 
to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the 
Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle. 

A few words now to Republicans. // is exceedingly desirable 
that all parts of this great Confederacy shall be at peace, and in 
harmony, one with another. Let us Republicans do our part to 
have it so. Even though much provoked, let us do nothing through 
passion and ill temper. Even though the southern people will not 
so much as listen to us, let us calmly consider their demands, and 
yield to them, if, in our deliberate view of our duty, we possibly 
can. Judging by all they say and do, and by the subject and 
nature of their controversy with us, let us determine, if we can, 
what will satisfy them. 

Will they be satisfied if the territories be unconditionally sur- 
rendered to them? We know they will not. In all their present 
complaints against us, the territories are scarcely mentioned. 
Invasions and insurrections are the rage now. Will it satisfy 
them, if, in the future, we have nothing to do with invasions and 
insurrections? We know it will not. We so know, because we 
know we never had anything to do with invasions and insurrec- 
tions ; and yet this total abstaining does not exempt us from the 
charge and the denunciation. 

The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We 
must not only let them alone, but we must, somehow, convince 
them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, 
is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from 
the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In 
all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our 
purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to con- 
vince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that 
they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb 


These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what 
will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery 
wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done 
thoroughly — done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not 
be tolerated — we must place ourselves avowedly with them. 
Senator Douglas's new sedition law must be enacted and 
enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, 
whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. 
We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy 
pleasure. We must pull down our free state constitutions. The 
whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition 
to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles 
proceed from us. 

I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely in this 
way. Most of them would probably say to us : ' Let us alone, 
do nothing to us, and say what you please about slavery.' But 
we do let them alone — have never disturbed them — so that, after 
all, it is what we say, which dissatisfies them. They will con- 
tinue to accuse us of doing, until we cease saying. 

I am also aware they have not, as yet, in terms, demanded the 
overthrow of our free-state constitutions. Yet those constitu- 
tions declare the wrong of slavery, with more solemn emphasis, 
than do all other sayings against it; and when all these other 
sayings shall have been silenced, the overthrow of these constitu- 
tions will be demanded, and nothing be left to resist the demand. 
It is nothing to the contrary, that they do not demand the whole 
of this just now. Demanding what they do, and for the reason 
they do, they can voluntarily stop nowhere short of this con- 
summation. Holding, as they do, that slavery is morally right, 
and socially elevating, they cannot cease to demand a full 
recognition of it, as a legal right, and a social blessing. 

Nor can we justifiably withhold this, on any ground save our 
conviction that slavery is wrong. If slavery is right, all words, 
acts, laws, and constitutions against it, are themselves wrong, 
and should be silenced and swept away. If it is right, we cannot 
justly object to its nationality — its universality; if it is wrong, 
they cannot justly insist upon its extension — its enlargement. 
All they ask, we could readily grant, if we thought slavery right; 
all we ask, they could as readily grant, if they thought it wrong. 
Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, is the precise 


facts upon which depends the whole controversy. Thinking it 
right, as they do, they are not to blame for desiring its full 
recognition, as being right; but, thinking it wrong, as we do, can 
we yield to them? Can we cast our votes with their view, and 
against our own? In view of our moral, social, and political 
responsibilities, can we do this? 

Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone 
where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from 
its actual presence in the nation ; but can we, while our votes will 
prevent it, allow it to spread into the national territories, and to 
overrun us here in these free states? If our sense of duty forbids 
this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let 
us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances where- 
with we are so industriously plied and belaboured — contrivances 
such as groping for some middle ground between the right and 
the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a 
living man nor a dead man — such as a policy of 'don't care' on 
a question about which all true men do care — such as Union 
appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, 
reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the 
righteous to repentance — such as invocations to Washington, 
imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what 
Washington did. 

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations 
against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to 
the government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have 


Letter to Samuel Galloway, Ohio Republican leader. 

Chicago, 24th March 1860. 

My dear Sir: I am here attending a trial in court. Before 
leaving home I received your kind letter of the 15th. Of course 
I am gratified to know I have friends in Ohio who are disposed 
to give me the highest evidence of their friendship and confidence. 
Mr Parrott of the legislature, had written me to the same effect. 
If I have any chance, it consists mainly in the fact that the whole 
opposition would vote for me if nominated. (I don't mean to 


include the pro-slavery opposition of the South, of course.) My 
name is new in the field; and I suppose I am not the first choice 
of a very great many. Our policy, then, is to give no offence to 
others — leave them in a mood to come to us, if they shall be 
compelled to give up their first love. This too is dealing justly 
with all, and leaving us in a mood to support heartily whoever 
shall be nominated. I believe I have once before told you that I 
especially wish to do no ungenerous thing towards Governor 
Chase, 1 because he gave us his sympathy in 1858, when scarcely 
any other distinguished man did. Whatever you may do for me, 
consistently with these suggestions, will be appreciated, and 
gratefully remembered. 
Please write me again. Yours very truly 

Letter to George Ashmun, President of the Republican National 
Convention, accepting the presidential nomination, 

Springfield, 23rd May 1860. 

Sir: I accept the nomination tendered me by the convention 
over which you presided, and of which I am formally apprised in 
the letter of yourself and others, acting as a committee of the 
convention, for that purpose. 

The declaration of principles and sentiments, which accom- 
panies your letter, meets my approval; and it shall be my care 
not to violate, or disregard it, in any part. 

Imploring the assistance of Divine Providence, and with due 
regard to the views and feelings of all who were represented in 
the convention; to the rights of all the states, and territories, and 
people of the nation ; to the inviolability of the Constitution, and 
the perpetual union, harmony, and prosperity of all, I am most 
happy to co-operate for the practical success of the principles 
declared by the convention. Your obliged friend, and fellow- 

1 Salmon P. Chase, whom Lincoln would appoint Secretary of the 
Treasury in 1861. 


An autobiography in the third person, written for John L. Scripps 
of the Chicago ''Press and Tribune.'' 

Springfield, June 1860. 

Abraham Lincoln was born 12th Feb. 1809, then in Hardin, 
now in the more recently formed county of Larue, Kentucky. 
His father, Thomas, and grandfather, Abraham, were born in 
Rockingham County, Virginia, whither their ancestors had come 
from Berks County, Pennsylvania. His lineage has been traced 
no farther back than this. The family were originally Quakers, 
though in later times they have fallen away from the peculiar 
habits of that people. The grandfather Abraham had four 
brothers — Isaac, Jacob, John, and Thomas. So far as known, 
the descendants of Jacob and John are still in Virginia. Isaac 
went to a place near where Virginia, North Carolina, and 
Tennessee, join ; and his descendants are in that region. Thomas 
came to Kentucky, and after many years, died there, whence his 
descendants went to Missouri. Abraham, grandfather of the 
subject of this sketch, came to Kentucky, and was killed by 
Indians about the year 1784. He left a widow, three sons, and 
two daughters. The eldest son, Mordecai, remained in Kentucky 
till late in life, when he removed to Hancock County, Illinois, 
where soon after he died, and where several of his descendants 
still reside. The second son, Josiah, removed at an early day 
to a place on Blue River, now within Harrison [Hancock] County, 
Indiana; but no recent information of him, or his family, has 
been obtained. The eldest sister, Mary, married Ralph Crume 
and some of her descendants are now known to be in Brecken- 
ridge County, Kentucky. The second sister, Nancy, married 
William Brumfield, and her family are not known to have left 
Kentucky, but there is no recent information from them. 
Thomas, the youngest son, and father of the present subject, by 
the early death of his father, and very narrow circumstances of 
his mother, even in childhood was a wandering labouring boy, 
and grew up literally without education. He never did more in the 
way of writing than to bunglingly sign his own name. Before he 
was grown, he passed one year as a hired hand with his Uncle 
Isaac on Watauga, a branch of the Holsteen [Holston] River. 
Getting back into Kentucky, and having reached his twenty- 
eighth year, he married Nancy Hanks — mother of the present 


subject — in the year 1806. She also was born in Virginia; and 
relatives of hers of the name of Hanks, and of other names, now 
reside in Coles, in Macon, and in Adams counties, Illinois, and 
also in Iowa. The present subject has no brother or sister of 
the whole or half blood. He had a sister, older than himself, 
who was grown and married, but died many years ago, leaving 
no child. Also a brother, younger than himself, who died in 
infancy. Before leaving Kentucky he and his sister were sent 
for short periods to A.B.C. schools, the first kept by Zachariah 
Riney, and the second by Caleb Hazel. 

At this time his father resided on Knob Creek, on the road 
from Bardstown, Kentucky, to Nashville, Tennessee, at a point 
three or three and a half miles south or south-west of Atherton's 
ferry on the Rolling Fork. From this place he removed to what 
is now Spencer County, Indiana, in the autumn of 1816, A. 1 
then being in his eighth year. This removal was partly on 
account of slavery ; but chiefly on account of the difficulty in land 
titles in Kentucky. He settled in an unbroken forest; and the 
clearing away of surplus wood was the great task ahead. A. 
though very young was large of his age, and had an axe put into 
his hands at once; and from that till within his twenty-third year, 
he was almost constantly handling that most useful instrument — 
less, of course, in plowing and harvesting seasons. At this place 
A. took an early start as a hunter, which was never much improved 
afterwards. (A few days before the completion of his eighth 
year, in the absence of his father, a flock of wild turkeys 
approached the new log cabin, and A. with a rifle gun, standing 
inside, shot through a crack, and killed one of them. He has 
never since pulled a trigger on any larger game.) In the autumn 
of 1818 his mother died; and a year afterwards his father married 
Mrs Sally Johnston, at Elizabethtown, Kentucky — a widow, 
with three children of her first marriage. She proved a good 
and kind mother to A. and is still living in Coles County, Illinois. 
There were no children of this second marriage. His father's 
residence continued at the same place in Indiana till 1 830. While 
here A. went to A.B.C. schools by littles, kept successively by 

Andrew Crawford, Sweeney, and Azel W. Dorsey. He 

does not remember any other. The family of Mr Dorsey now 
reside in Schuyler County, Illinois. A. now thinks that the 
1 Throughout this sketch 'A.' stands for the writer. 


aggregate of all his schooling did not amount to one year. He 
was never in a college or academy as a student; and never inside 
of a college or academy building till since he had a law licence. 
What he has in the way of education, he has picked up. After 
he was twenty-three, and had separated from his father, he 
studied English grammar, imperfectly of course, but so as to 
speak and write as well as he now does. He studied and nearly 
mastered the six books of Euclid, since he was a member of 
Congress. He regrets his want of education, and does what he 
can to supply the want. In his tenth year he was kicked by a 
horse, and apparently killed for a time. When he was nineteen, 
still residing in Indiana, he made his first trip upon a flat-boat to 
New Orleans. He was a hired hand merely ; and he and a son of 
the owner, without other assistance, made the trip. The nature 
of part of the cargo-load, as it was called, made it necessary for 
them to linger and trade along the Sugar coast — and one night 
they were attacked by seven Negroes with intent to kill and rob 
them. They were hurt some in the melee, but succeeded in 
driving the Negroes from the boat, and then 'cut cable,' 'weighed 
anchor,' and left. 

March 1st 1830: A. having just completed his twenty-first 
year, his father and family, with the families of the two daughters 
and sons-in-law of his stepmother, left the old homestead in 
Indiana, and came to Illinois. Their mode of conveyance was 
wagons drawn by ox-teams, or [sic] A. drove one of the teams. 
They reached the county of Macon, and stopped there some 
time within the same month of March. His father and family 
settled a new place on the north side of the Sangamon River, at 
the junction of the timber-land and prairie, about ten miles 
westerly from Decatur. Here they built a log cabin, into which 
they removed, and made sufficient of rails to fence ten acres of 
ground, fenced and broke the ground, and raised a crop of sown 
corn upon it the same year. These are, or are supposed to be, 
the rails about which so much is being said just now, though they 
are far from being the first, or only rails ever made by A. 

The sons-in-law were temporarily settled at other places in the 
county. In the autumn all hands were greatly afflicted with 
ague and fever, to which they had not been used, and by which 
they were greatly discouraged — so much so that they determined 
on leaving the county. They remained, however, through the 


succeeding winter, which was the winter of the very celebrated 
'deep snow' of Illinois. During that winter, A., together with 
his stepmother's son, John D. Johnston, and John Hanks, yet 
residing in Macon County, hired themselves to one Denton 
OfFutt, to take a flat-boat from Beardstown, Illinois, to New 
Orleans; and for that purpose, were to join him — Offutt — at 
Springfield, Illinois, so soon as the snow should go off. When it 
did go off, which was about the 1st of March 1831 — the county 
was so flooded as to make travelling by land impracticable; to 
obviate which difficulty they purchased a large canoe and came 
down the Sangamon River in it. This is the time and the manner 
of A.'s first entrance into Sangamon County. They found 
Offutt at Springfield, but learned from him that he had failed in 
getting a boat at Beardstown. This led to their hiring themselves 
to him at $12 per month, each; and getting the timber out of the 
trees and building a boat at old Sangamon Town on the Sanga- 
mon River, seven miles north-west of Springfield, which boat 
they took to New Orleans, substantially upon the old contract. 
It was in connection with this boat that occurred the ludicrous 
incident of sewing up the hogs' eyes. Offutt bought thirty odd 
large, fat, live hogs, but found difficulty in driving them from 
where [he] purchased them to the boat, and thereupon conceived 
the whim that he could sew up their eyes and drive them where he 
pleased. No sooner thought of than decided, he put his hands, 
including A. at the job, which they completed — all but the 
driving. In their blind condition they could not be driven out 
of the lot or field they were in. This expedient failing, they were 
tied and hauled on carts to the boat. It was near the Sangamon 
River, within what is now Menard County. 

During this boat enterprise acquaintance with Offutt, who was 
previously an entire stranger, he conceived a liking for A. and 
believing he could turn him to account, he contracted with him to 
act as clerk for him, on his return from New Orleans, in charge of 
a store and mill at New Salem, then in Sangamon, how in Menard 
County. Hanks had not gone to New Orleans, but having a 
family, and being likely to be detained from home longer than at 
first expected, had turned back from St Louis. He is the same 
John Hanks who now engineers the 'rail enterprise' at Decatur; 
and is a first cousin to A.'s mother. A.'s father, with his own 
family and others mentioned, had, in pursuance of their intention, 


removed from Macon to Coles County. John D. Johnston, the 
stepmother's son, went to them; and A. stopped indefinitely, and, 
for the first time, as it were, by himself at New Salem, before 
mentioned. This was in July 1831. Here he rapidly made 
acquaintances and friends. In less than a year Offutt's business 
was failing — had almost failed — when the Black-Hawk War of 
1832 broke out. A. joined a volunteer company, and to his 
own surprise, was elected captain of it. He says he has not 
since had any success in life which gave him so much satisfaction. 
He went the campaign, served near three months, met the 
ordinary hardships of such an expedition, but was in no battle. 
He now owns in Iowa the land upon which his own warrants for 
this service were located. Returning from the campaign, and 
encouraged by his great popularity among his immediate neigh- 
bours, he, the same year, ran for the legislature and was beaten — ■ 
his own precinct, however, casting its votes 277 for and 7 against 
him. And this too while he was an avowed Clay man, and the 
precinct the autumn afterwards, giving a majority of 1 1 5 to Genl. 
Jackson over Mr Clay. This was the only time A. was ever 
beaten on a direct vote of the people. He was now without 
means and out of business, but was anxious to remain with his 
friends who had treated him with so much generosity, especially 
as he had nothing elsewhere to go to. He studied what he 
should do — thought of learning the blacksmith trade — thought 
of trying to study law — rather thought he could not succeed at 
that without a better education. Before long, strangely enough, 
a man offered to sell and did sell, to A. and another as poor as 
himself, an old stock of goods, upon credit. They opened as 
merchants ; and he says that was the store. Of course they did 
nothing but get deeper and deeper in debt. He was appointed 
postmaster at New Salem — the office being too insignificant to 
make his politics an objection. The store winked out. The 
surveyor of Sangamon offered to depute to A. that portion of his 
work which was within his part of the county. He accepted, 
procured a compass and chain, studied Flint, and Gibson a little, 
and went at it. This procured bread, and kept soul and body 
together. The election of 1834 came, and he was then elected 
to the legislature by the highest vote cast for any candidate. 
Major John T. Stuart, then in full practice of the law, was also 
elected. During the canvass, in a private conversation he 


encouraged A. to study law. After the election he borrowed 
books of Stuart, took them home with him, and went at it in 
good earnest. He studied with nobody. He still mixed in the 
surveying to pay board and clothing bills. When the legislature 
met, the law books were dropped, but were taken up again at 
the end of the session. He was re-elected in 1836, 1838, and 
1840. In the autumn of 1836 he obtained a law licence, and on 
15th April 1837 removed to Springfield, and commenced the 
practice, his old friend, Stuart, taking him into partnership. 
March 3rd 1837, by a protest entered upon the Illinois House 
Journal of that date, at pages 817, 818, A. with Dan Stone, 
another representative of Sangamon, briefly defined his position 
on the slavery question; and so far as it goes, it was then the same 
that it is now. The protest is as follows — (here insert it). 1 In 
1838, and 1840, Mr L.'s party in the legislature voted for him as 
speaker; but being in the minority, he was not elected. After 
1 840 he declined a re-election to the legislature. He was on the 
Harrison electoral ticket in 1840, and on that of Clay in 1844, 
and spent much time and labour in both those canvasses. In 
November 1842 he was married to Mary, daughter of Robert S. 
Todd, of Lexington, Kentucky. They have three living children, 
all sons — born in 1843, one in 1850, and one in 1853. They 
lost one, who was born in 1846. In 1846, he was elected to the 
lower House of Congress, and served one term only, commencing 

1 Text of the protest, which was read before the House and ordered to be 
spread on the Journal, is as follows : 

'Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both 
branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned 
hereby protest against the passage of the same. 

'They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice 
and bad policy; but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends 
rather to increase than to abate its evils. 

'They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power, under 
the Constitution, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different 

'They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power, 
under the Constitution, to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; 
but that the power ought not to be exercised unless at the request of the 
people of said District. 

'The difference between these opinions and those contained in the said 
resolutions, is their reason for entering this protest.' 

Dan Stone, 
A. Lincoln, 
Representatives from the County of Sangamon. 


in December 1847 and ending with the inauguration of Gen. 
Taylor, in March 1849. All the battles of the Mexican War 
had been fought before Mr L. took his seat in Congress, but the 
American army was still in Mexico, and the treaty of peace was 
not fully and formally ratified till the June afterwards. Much 
has been said of his course in Congress in regard to this war. A 
careful examination of the Journals and Congressional Globe 
shows that he voted for all the supply measures which came up, 
and for all the measures in any way favourable to the officers, 
soldiers, and their families, who conducted the war through; 
with this exception that some of these measures passed without 
yeas and nays, leaving no record as to how particular men voted. 
The Journals and Globe also show him voting that the war was 
unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of 
the United States. This is the language of Mr Ashmun's amend- 
ment, for which Mr L. and nearly or quite all other Whigs of the 
H.R. voted. 

Mr L.'s reasons for the opinion expressed by this vote were 
briefly that the President had sent Genl. Taylor into an inhabited 
part of the country belonging to Mexico, and not to the U.S. and 
thereby had provoked the first act of hostility — in fact the com- 
mencement of the war; that the place, being the country border- 
ing on the east bank of the Rio Grande, was inhabited by native 
Mexicans, born there under the Mexican governments; and had 
never submitted to, nor been conquered by Texas, or the U.S. 
nor transferred to either by treaty — that although Texas claimed 
the Rio Grande as her boundary, Mexico had never recognized 
it, the people on the ground had never recognized it, and 
neither Texas nor the U.S. had ever enforced it — that there 
was a broad desert between that and the country over which 
Texas had actual control — that the country where hostilities 
commenced, having once belonged to Mexico, must remain so, 
until it was somehow legally transferred, which had never been 

Mr L. thought the act of sending an armed force among the 
Mexicans, was unnecessary, inasmuch as Mexico was in no way 
molesting or menacing the U.S. or the people thereof; and that it 
was unconstitutional, because the power of levying war is vested 
in Congress, and not in the President. He thought the principal 
motive for the act was to divert public attention from the 


surrender of 'Fifty-four, forty, or fight' to Great Britain, on the 
Oregon boundary question. 

Mr L. was not a candidate for re-election. This was deter- 
mined upon and declared before he went to Washington, in 
accordance with an understanding among Whig friends, by which 
Col. Hardin, and Col. Baker had each previously served a single 
term in the same District. 

In 1848, during his term in Congress, he advocated Gen. 
Taylor's nomination for the Presidency, in opposition to all 
others, and also took an active part for his election after his 
nomination — speaking a few times in Maryland, near Washing- 
ton, several times in Massachusetts, and canvassing quite fully 
his own district in Illinois, which was followed by a majority in 
the district of over 1500 for Gen. Taylor. 

Upon his return from Congress he went to the practice of the 
law with greater earnestness than ever before. In 1852 he was 
upon the Scott electoral ticket, and did something in the way of 
canvassing, but owing to the hopelessness of the cause in Illinois, 
he did less than in previous presidential canvasses. 

In 1854, his profession had almost superseded the thought of 
politics in his mind, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
aroused him as he had never been before. 

In the autumn of that year he took the stump with no broader 
practical aim or object than to secure, if possible, the re-election 
of Hon. Richard Yates to Congress. His speeches at once 
attracted a more marked attention than they had ever before done. 
As the canvass proceeded, he was drawn to different parts of the 
state, outside of Mr Yates's district. He did not abandon the 
law, but gave his attention, by turns, to that and politics. The 
state agricultural fair was at Springfield that year, and Douglas 
was announced to speak there. 

In the canvass of 1856, Mr L. made over fifty speeches, no one 
of which, so far as he remembers, was put in print. One of them 
was made at Galena, but Mr L. has no recollection of any part of 
it being printed ; nor does he remember whether in that speech he 
said anything about a Supreme court decision. He may have 
spoken upon that subject; and some of the newspapers may have 
reported him as saying what is now ascribed to him; but he 
thinks he could not have expressed himself as represented. 



Letter to Anson G. Henry, an old friend now living in Oregon 

Springfield, 4th July 1860. 

My dear Doctor: Your very agreeable letter of 15th May was 
received three days ago. We are just now receiving the first 
sprinkling of your Oregon election returns — not enough, I 
think, to indicate the result. We should be too happy if both 
Logan and Baker should triumph. 

Long before this you have learned who was nominated at 
Chicago. We know not what a day may bring forth; but to-day 
it looks as if the Chicago ticket will be elected. I think the 
chances were more than equal that we could have beaten the 
Democracy united. Divided as it is, its chance appears indeed 
very slim. 1 But great is Democracy in resources; and it may 
yet give its fortunes a turn. It is under great temptation to do 
something; but what can it do which was not thought of, and 
found impracticable, at Charleston and Baltimore? The signs 
now are that Douglas and Breckinridge will each have a ticket in 
every state. They are driven to this to keep up their bombastic 
claims of nationality, and to avoid the charge of sectionalism 
which they have so much lavished upon us. 

It is an amusing fact, after all Douglas has said about nation- 
ality, and sectionalism, that I had more votes from the southern 
section at Chicago, than he had at Baltimore! In fact, there 
was more of the southern section represented at Chicago, than 
in the Douglas rump concern at Baltimore! 

Our boy, 2 in his tenth year (the baby when you left), has just 
had a hard and tedious spell of scarlet-fever; and he is not yet 
beyond all danger. I have a headache, and a sore throat upon 
me now, inducing me to suspect that I have an inferior type of 
the same thing. 

Our eldest boy, Bob, has been away from us nearly a year at 
school, and will enter Harvard University this month. He 
promises very well, considering we never controlled him much. 

1 The Democratic party had split into northern and southern wings, the 
former nominating Stephen A. Douglas and Herschel V. Johnson, the 
latter John C. Breckinridge and Joseph Lane. The Constitutional Union 
party (Whig and Know Nothing) further divided the field by nominating 
John Bell and Edward Everett. 

2 William Wallace Lincoln, born 21st December 1850. 


Write again when you receive this. Mary joins in sending our 
kindest regards to Mrs H., yourself, and all the family. Your 
friend, as ever 

Letter to George C. Latham, a young man who had attended 
Phillips Exeter Academy with Robert Lincoln. 

Springfield, 22nd July 1860. 

My dear George: I have scarcely felt greater pain in my life 
than on learning yesterday from Bob's letter, that you had failed 
to enter Harvard University. And yet there is very little in it, 
if you will allow no feeling of discouragement to seize, and prey 
upon you. It is a certain truth, that you can enter, and graduate 
in, Harvard University ; and having made the attempt, you must 
succeed in it. Must is the word. 

I know not how to aid you, save in the assurance of one of 
mature age, and much severe experience, that you can not fail, 
if you resolutely determine, that you will not. 

The President of the institution can scarcely be other than a 
kind man; and doubtless he would grant you an interview, and 
point out the readiest way to remove, or overcome, the obstacles 
which have thwarted you. 

In your temporary failure there is no evidence that you may 
not yet be a better scholar, and a more successful man in the great 
struggle of life, than many others who have entered college more 

Again I say let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, 
and in the end you are sure to succeed. 

With more than a common interest I subscribe myself, Very 
truly your friend 

Letter to George D. Prentice, editor of the Louisville, Kentucky, 

29th October 1860. 

My dear Sir: Yours of the 26th is just received. Your sugges- 
tion that I, in a certain event, shall write a letter, setting forth my 
conservative views and intentions, is certainly a very worthy one. 
But would it do any good? If I were to labour a month, I could 

148 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

not express my conservative views and intentions more clearly 
and strongly than they are expressed in our platform, and in my 
many speeches already in print, and before the public. And yet 
even you, who do occasionally speak of me in terms of personal 
kindness, give no prominence to these oft-repeated expressions 
of conservative views and intentions; but busy yourself with 
appeals to all conservative men to vote for Douglas — to vote any 
way which can possibly defeat me — thus impressing your readers 
that you think I am the very worst man living. If what I have 
already said has failed to convince you, no repetition of it would 
convince you. The writing of your letter, now before me, gives 
assurance that you would publish such a letter from me as you 
suggest ; but, till now, what reason had I to suppose the Louisville 
Journal, even, would publish a repetition of that which is already 
at its command, and which it does not press upon the public 

And, now my friend — for such I esteem you personally — do 
not misunderstand me. I have not decided that I will not do 
substantially what you suggest. I will not forbear doing so, 
merely on punctilio and pluck. If I do finally abstain, it will be 
because of apprehension that it would do harm. For the good 
men of the South — and I regard the majority of them as such — 
I have no objection to repeat seventy and seven times. But I 
have bad men also to deal with, both North and South — men 
who are eager for something new upon which to base new mis- 
representations — men who would like to frighten me, or, at 
least, to fix upon me the character of timidity and cowardice. 
They would seize upon almost any letter I could write, as being 
an 'awful coming down.' I intend keeping my eye upon these 
gentlemen, and to not unnecessarily put any weapons in their 
hands. Yours very truly 

Letter to Lyman Trumbull, Republican Senator from Illinois, 

Springfield, 10th December 1860. 

My dear Sir: Let there be no compromise on the question of 
extending slavery. If there be, all our labour is lost, and, ere 
long, must be done again. The dangerous ground — that into 
which some of our friends have a hankering to run — is Pop. Sov. 


Have none of it. Stand firm. The tug has to come, and better 
now, than any time hereafter. Yours as ever 

To Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, two days after South 
Carolina passed the Ordinance of Secession 

Springfield, 22nd December 1860. 

My dear Sir: Your obliging answer to my short note is just 
received, and for which please accept my thanks. I fully 
appreciate the present peril the country is in, and the weight of 
responsibility on me. 

Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Repub- 
lican administration would, directly, or indirectly, interfere with 
their slaves, or with them, about their slaves? If they do, I wish 
to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, 
that there is no cause for such fears. 

The South would be in no more danger in this respect, than it 
was in the days of Washington. I suppose, however, this does 
not meet the case. You think slavery is right and ought to be 
extended; while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. 
That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial 
difference between us. Yours very truly 

Farewell Address. 

Springfield, 11th February 1861. 

My friends: No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my 
feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness 
of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of 
a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here 
my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, 
not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task 
before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. 
Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended 
him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. 
Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and 
be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet 
be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers 
you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell. 


Speech at Indianapolis, Indiana. 

11th February 1861. 

It is not possible, in my journey to the national capital, to 
address assemblies like this which may do me the great honour to 
meet me as you have done, but very briefly. I should be entirely 
worn out if 1 were to attempt it. I appear before you now to 
thank you for this very magnificent welcome which you have 
given me, and still more for the very generous support which your 
state recently gave to the political cause of the whole country, and 
the whole world. Solomon has said, that there is a time to keep 
silence. 1 We know certain that they mean the same thing while 
using the same words now, and it perhaps would be as well if they 
would keep silence. 

The words 'coercion' and 'invasion' are in great use about 
these days. Suppose we were simply to try if we can, and 
ascertain what is the meaning of these words. Let us get, if we 
can, the exact definitions of these words — not from dictionaries, 
but from the men who constantly repeat them — what things they 
mean to express by the words. What, then, is 'coercion'? 
What is 'invasion'? Would the marching of an army into 
South Carolina, for instance, without the consent of her people, 
and in hostility against them, be coercion or invasion? I very 
frankly say, I think it would be invasion, and it would be coercion 
too, if the people of that country were forced to submit. But if 
the government, for instance, but simply insists upon holding its 
own forts, or retaking those forts which belong to it — or the 
enforcement of the laws of the United States in the collection 
of duties upon foreign importations — or even the withdrawal of 
the mails from those portions of the country where the mails 
themselves are habitually violated; would any or all of these 
things be coercion? Do the lovers of the Union contend that 
they will resist coercion or invasion of any state, understanding 
that any or all of these would be coercing or invading a state? 
If they do, then it occurs to me that the means for the preserva- 
tion of the Union they so greatly love, in their own estimation, is 
of a very thin and airy character. If sick, they would consider 
the little pills of the homoeopathist as already too large for them 
to swallow. In their view, the Union, as a family relation, would 
1 At this point the reporter apparently lost a passage. 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 151 

not be anything like a regular marriage at all, but only as a sort 
of free-love arrangement — to be maintained on what that sect 
calls passionate attraction. But, my friends, enough of this. 

What is the particular sacredness of a state? I speak not of 
that position which is given to a state in and by the Constitution 
of the United States, for that all of us agree to — we abide by ; but 
that position assumed, that a state can carry with it out of the 
Union that which it holds in sacredness by virtue of its connection 
with the Union. I am speaking of that assumed right of a state, 
as a primary principle, that the Constitution should rule all that 
is less than itself, and ruin all that is bigger than itself. But, I 
ask, wherein does consist that right? If a state, in one instance, 
and a county in another, should be equal in extent of territory, 
and equal in the number of people, wherein is that state any 
better than the county? Can a change of name change the right? 
By what principle of original right is it that one-fiftieth or one- 
ninetieth of a great nation, by calling themselves a state, have 
the right to break up and ruin that nation as a matter of original 
principle? Now, I ask the question — I am not deciding any- 
thing — and with the request that you will think somewhat upon 
that subject and decide for yourselves, if you choose, when you 
get ready — where is the mysterious, original right, from principle, 
for a certain district of country with inhabitants, by merely being 
called a state, to play tyrant over all its own citizens, and deny 
the authority of everything greater than itself. I say I am 
deciding nothing, but simply giving something for you to reflect 
upon ; and, with having said this much, and having declared, in 
the start, that I will make no long speeches, I thank you again for 
this magnificent welcome, and bid you an affectionate farewell. 

Address to the Senate of New Jersey. 

Trenton, 21st February 1861. 

Mr President and Gentlemen of the Senate of the State of 
New Jersey : I am very grateful to you for the honourable recep- 
tion of which I have been the object. I cannot but remember the 
place that New Jersey holds in our early history. In the early 
revolutionary struggle, few of the states among the old Thirteen 
had more of the battle-fields of the country within their limits 


than old New Jersey. May I be pardoned if, upon this occasion, 
I mention that away back in my childhood, the earliest days of 
my being able to read, I got hold of a small book, such a one as 
few of the younger members have ever seen, Weems's Life of 
Washington. I remember all the accounts there given of the 
battle-fields and struggles for the liberties of the country, and 
none fixed themselves upon my imagination so deeply as the 
struggle here at Trenton, New Jersey. The crossing of the river, 
the contest with the Hessians, the great hardships endured at that 
time, all fixed themselves on my memory more than any single 
revolutionary event; and you all know, for you have all been 
boys, how these early impressions last longer than any others. 
I recollect thinking then, boy even though I was, that there 
must have been something more than common that those men 
struggled for. I am exceedingly anxious that that thing which 
they struggled for, that something even more than national inde- 
pendence, that something that held out a great promise to all the 
people of the world to all time to come; I am exceedingly anxious 
that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people 
shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for 
which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed 
if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, 
and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object 
of that great struggle. You give me this reception, as I under- 
stand, without distinction of party. I learn that this body is 
composed of a majority of gentlemen who, in the exercise of 
their best judgment in the choice of a Chief Magistrate, did not 
think I was the man. I understand, nevertheless, that they came 
forward here to greet me as the constitutional President of the 
United States — as citizens of the United States, to meet the 
man who, for the time being, is the representative man of the 
nation, united by a purpose to perpetuate the Union and liberties 
of the people. As such, I accept this reception more gratefully than 
I could do did I believe it was tendered to me as an individual. 

Speech in Independence Hall. 

Philadelphia, 22nd February 1861. 

Mr Cuyler: I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself 
standing here in the place where were collected together the 


wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which 
sprang the institutions under which we live. You have kindly 
suggested to me that in my hands is the task of restoring peace 
to our distracted country. I can say in return, sir, that all the 
political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have 
been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated, 
and were given to the world from this hall in which we stand. I 
have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the 
sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. I 
have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by 
the men who assembled here and adopted that Declaration of 
Independence — I have pondered over the toils that were endured 
by the officers and soldiers of the army, who achieved that 
independence. I have often inquired of myself, what great 
principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long 
together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the 
colonies from the motherland; but something in that Declaration 
giving liberty not alone to the people of this country, but hope 
to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise 
that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders 
of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the 
sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence. 

Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? 
If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the 
world if I can help to save it. If it can't be saved upon that 
principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this country cannot be 
saved without giving up that principle — I was about to say I 
would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it. 

Now, in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no 
need of bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. I am 
not in favour of such a course, and I may say in advance, there 
will be no bloodshed unless it be forced upon the government. 
The government will not use force unless force is used against it. 

My friends, this is a wholly unprepared speech. I did not 
expect to be called upon to say a word when I came here — I 
supposed I was merely to do something towards raising a flag. 
I may, therefore, have said something indiscreet, but I have said 
nothing but what I am willing to live by, and, in the pleasure of 
Almighty God, die by. 

* 17 206 

154 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

First Inaugural Address. 

4th March 1861. 

Fellow-citizens of the United States: In compliance with a 
custom as old as the government itself, 1 appear before you to 
address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath 
prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken 
by the President ' before he enters on the execution of his office.' 

I do not consider it necessary, at present, for me to discuss 
those matters of administration about which there is no special 
anxiety, or excitement. 

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the southern 
states, that by the accession of a Republican administration, their 
property, and their peace, and personal security, are to be 
endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for 
such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the 
contrary has all the while existed, and been open to their inspec- 
tion. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who 
now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches 
when I declare that 'I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, 
to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it 
exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no 
inclination to do so.' Those who nominated and elected me did 
so with full knowledge that I had made this, and many similar 
declarations, and had never recanted them. And more than 
this, they placed in the platform, for my acceptance, and as a law 
to themselves, and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution 
which I now read : 

' Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the 
states, and especially the right of each state to order and control 
its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment 
exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the 
perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend ; and we 
denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any 
state or territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the 
gravest of crimes.' 

I now reiterate these sentiments : and in doing so, I only press 
upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which 
the case is susceptible, that the property, peace, and security of 


no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming 
administration. I add too, that all the protection which, con- 
sistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given, will 
be cheerfully given to all the states when lawfully demanded, for 
whatever cause — as cheerfully to one section, as to another. 

There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives 
from service or labour. The clause I now read is as plainly 
written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions: 

'No person held to service or labour in one state, under the 
laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any 
law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or 
labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom 
such service or labour may be due.' 

It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by 
those who made it, for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive 
slaves; and the intention of the lawgiver is the law. All members 
of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution — to 
this provision as much as to any other. To the proposition, then, 
that slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause, ' shall 
be delivered up,' their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would 
make the effort in good temper, could they not, with nearly 
equal unanimity, frame and pass a law, by means of which to 
keep good that unanimous oath? 

There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should 
be enforced by national or by state authority; but surely that 
difference is not a very material one. If the slave is to be 
surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him, or to 
others, by which authority it is done. And should anyone, in 
any case, be content that his oath shall go unkept, on a merely 
unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be kept? 

Again, in any law upon this subject, ought not all the safe- 
guards of liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence 
to be introduced, so that a free man be not, in any case, sur- 
rendered as a slave? And might it not be well, at the same time, 
to provide by law for the enforcement of that clause in the 
Constitution which guarantees that 'The citizens of each state 
shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the 
several states?' 

I take the official oath to-day, with no mental reservations, and 

156 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws, by any 
hypercritical rules. And while I do not choose now to specify 
particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest, 
that it will be much safer for all, both in official and private 
stations, to conform to, and abide by, all those acts which stand 
unrepealed, than to violate any of them, trusting to find impunity 
in having them held to be unconstitutional. 

It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a President 
under our national Constitution. During that period fifteen 
different and greatly distinguished citizens, have, in succession, 
administered the executive branch of the government. They 
have conducted it through many perils; and, generally, with 
great success. Yet, with all this scope for precedent, I now enter 
upon the same task for the brief constitutional term of four 
years, under great and peculiar difficulty. A disruption of the 
Federal Union heretofore only menaced, is now formidably 

I hold, that in contemplation of universal law, and of the 
Constitution, the Union of these states is perpetual. Perpetuity 
is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national 
governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper, 
ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. 
Continue to execute all the express provisions of our national 
Constitution, and the Union will endure forever — it being 
impossible to destroy it, except by some action not provided for 
in the instrument itself. 

Again, if the United States be not a government proper, but 
an association of states in the nature of contract merely, can it, 
as a contract, be peaceably unmade, by less than all the parties 
who made it? One party to a contract may violate it — break it, 
so to speak; but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it? 

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposi- 
tion that, in legal contemplation, the Union is perpetual, con- 
firmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much 
older than the Constitution. It was formed in fact, by the 
Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued 
by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further 
matured and the faith of all the then thirteen states expressly 
plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles 
of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the 


declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution, 
was * to form a more perfect union.'' 

But if destruction of the Union, by one, or by a part only, of 
the states, be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than 
before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of per- 

It follows from these views that no state, upon its own mere 
motion, can lawfully get out of the Union — that resolves and 
ordinances to that effect are legally void; and that acts of 
violence, within the state or states, against the authority of the 
United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according 
to circumstances. 

I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the 
laws, the Union is unbroken; and, to the extent of my ability, 
I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon 
me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the 
states. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part; 
and I shall perform it, so far as practicable, unless my rightful 
masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite 
means, or, in some authoritative manner, direct the contrary. I 
trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the 
declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend, 
and maintain itself. 

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and 
there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national auth- 
ority. The power confided to me, will be used to hold, occupy, 
and possess the property, and places belonging to the govern- 
ment, and to collect the duties and imposts ; but beyond what may 
be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion — no 
using of force against, or among the people anywhere. Where 
hostility to the United States, in any interior locality, shall be so 
great and so universal, as to prevent competent resident citizens 
from holding the federal offices, there will be no attempt to force 
obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While 
the strict legal right may exist in the government to enforce the 
exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritat- 
ing, and so nearly impracticable with all, that I deem it better to 
forgo, for the time, the uses of such offices. 

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all 
parts of the Union/ So far as possible, the people everywhere 

158 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

shall have that sense of perfect security which is most favourable 
to calm thought and reflection. The course here indicated will 
be followed, unless current events, and experience, shall show a 
modification, or change, to be proper; and in every case and 
exigency, my best discretion will be exercised, according to 
circumstances actually existing, and with a view and a hope of a 
peaceful solution of the national troubles, and the restoration of 
fraternal sympathies and affections. 

That there are persons in one section, or another who seek to 
destroy the Union at all events, and are glad of any pretext to do 
it, I will neither affirm nor deny; but if there be such, I need 
address no word to them. To those, however, who really love 
the Union, may I not speak? 

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of 
our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its 
hopes, would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it? 
Will you hazard so desperate a step, while there is any possibility 
that any portion of the ills you fly from, have no real existence? 
Will you, while the certain ills you fly to, are greater than all the 
real ones you fly from? Will you risk the commission of so 
fearful a mistake? 

All profess to be content in the Union, if all constitutional 
rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right, plainly 
written in the Constitution, has been denied? I think not. 
Happily the human mind is so constituted, that no party can 
reach to the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of a 
single instance in which a plainly written provision of the Con- 
stitution has ever been denied. If, by the mere force of numbers, 
a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written con- 
stitutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify 
revolution — certainly would, if such right were a vital one. But 
such is not our case. All the vital rights of minorities, and of 
individuals, are so plainly assured to them, by affirmations and 
negations, guarantees and prohibitions, in the Constitution, 
that controversies never arise concerning them. But no organic 
law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable 
to every question which may occur in practical administration. 
No foresight can anticipate, nor any document of reasonable 
length contain express provisions for all possible questions. 
Shall fugitives from labour be surrendered by national or by 


state authority? The Constitution does not expressly say. 
May Congress prohibit slavery in the territories? The Con- 
stitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect slavery 
in the territories? The Constitution does not expressly say. 

From the questions of this class spring all our constitutional 
controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and 
minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority 
must, or the government must cease. There is no other alter- 
native; for continuing the government, is acquiescence on one 
side or the other. If a minority, in such case, will secede rather 
than acquiesce, they make a precedent which, in turn, will divide 
and ruin them ; for a minority of their own will secede from them, 
whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. 
For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy, a 
year or two hence, arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions 
of the present Union now claim to secede from it. All who 
cherish disunion sentiments, are now being educated to the exact 
temper of doing this. Is there such perfect identity of interests 
among the states to compose a new Union, as to produce harmony 
only, and prevent renewed secession? 

Plainly, the central idea of secession, is the essence of anarchy. 
A majority, held in restraint by constitutional checks, and limita- 
tions, and always changing easily, with deliberate changes of 
popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a 
free people. Whoever rejects it, does, of necessity, fly to anarchy 
or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible; the rule of a minority, 
as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, 
rejecting the majority principle, anarchy, or despotism in some 
form, is all that is left. 

I do not forget the position assumed by some, that con- 
stitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; 
nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case, 
upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while they 
are also entitled to very high respect and consideration, in all 
parallel cases, by all other departments of the government. 
And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be 
erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, 
being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may 
be overruled, and never become a precedent for other cases, can 
better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At 


the same time the candid citizen must confess that if the policy 
of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole 
people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme 
Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between 
parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their 
own rulers, having, to that extent, practically resigned their 
government, into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is 
there, in this view, any assault upon the court, or the judges. It 
is a duty, from which they may not shrink, to decide cases 
properly brought before them; and it is no fault of theirs if 
others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes. 

One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought 
to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not 
to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The 
fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, and the law for the 
suppression of the foreign slave trade, are each as well enforced, 
perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral 
sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great 
body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation in both 
cases, and a few break over in each. This, I think, cannot be 
perfectly cured; and it would be worse in both cases after the 
separation of the sections, than before. The foreign slave trade, 
now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived without 
restriction, in one section ; while fugitive slaves, now only partially 
surrendered, would not be surrendered at all, by the other. 

Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot remove 
our respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable 
wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced, and 
go out of the presence, and beyond the reach of each other ; but 
the different parts of our country cannot do this. They cannot 
remain face to face; and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, 
must continue between them. Is it possible then to make that 
intercourse more advantageous, or more satisfactory, after 
separation than before*! Can aliens make treaties easier than 
friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced 
between aliens, than laws can among friends? Suppose you go 
to war, you cannot fight always; and when, after much loss on 
both sides, and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical 
old questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you. 

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who 


inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing 
government, they can exercise their constitutional right of 
amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember, or over- 
throw it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy, 
and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the national con- 
stitution amended. While I make no recommendation of 
amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people 
over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes 
prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing 
circumstances, favour, rather than oppose, a fair opportunity 
being afforded the people to act upon it. 

I will venture to add that, to me, the convention mode seems 
preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the 
people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take, or 
reject, propositions originated by others, not especially chosen 
for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such, as they 
would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed 
amendment to the Constitution — which amendment, however, I 
have not seen, has passed Congress, to the effect that the federal 
government, shall never interfere with the domestic institutions 
of the states, including that of persons held to service. To avoid 
misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose 
not to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say that, 
holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I 
have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable. 

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, 
and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the 
separation of the states. The people themselves can do this also 
if they choose; but the executive, as such, has nothing to do with 
it. His duty is to administer the present government, as it came 
to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his 

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate 
justice of the people? Is there any better, or equal hope, in the 
world? In our present differences, is either party without faith 
of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of nations, with his 
eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on 
yours of the South, that truth, and that justice, will surely 
prevail, by the judgment of this great tribunal, the American 


By the frame of the government under which we live, this same 
people have wisely given their public servants but little power for 
mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return 
of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. 

While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no adminis- 
tration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously 
injure the government, in the short space of four years. 

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well, upon this 
whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If 
there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step 
which you would never take deliberately, that object will be 
frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated 
by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied, still have the old 
Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws 
of your own framing under it ; while the new administration will 
have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it 
were admitted that you who are dissatisfied, hold the right side 
in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipi- 
tate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm 
reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favoured land, 
are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present 

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in 
mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will 
not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being your- 
selves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to 
destroy the government, while / shall have the most solemn one 
to 'preserve, protect, and defend' it. 

I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We 
must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it 
must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of 
memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to 
every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will 
yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely 
they will be, by the better angels of our nature. 


To William H. Seward, Secretary of State: A letter which may not 
have been sent. 

1st April 1861. 

My dear Sir: Since parting with you I have been considering 
your paper dated this day, and entitled 'Some thoughts for the 
President's consideration.' The first proposition in it is, '1st. 
We are at the end of a month's administration, and yet without a 
policy, either domestic or foreign.' 

At the beginning of that month, in the inaugural, I said: 'The 
power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess 
the property and places belonging to the government, and to 
collect the duties, and imposts.' This had your distinct approval 
at the time; and, taken in connection with the order I immediately 
gave General Scott, directing him to employ every means in his 
power to strengthen and hold the forts, comprises the exact 
domestic policy you now urge, with the single exception, that it 
does not propose to abandon Fort Sumter. 

Again, I do not perceive how the reinforcement of Fort 
Sumter would be done on a slavery, or party issue, while that of 
Fort Pickens would be on a more national, and patriotic one. 

The news received yesterday in regard to St Domingo, certainly 
brings a new item within the range of our foreign policy, but up 
to that time we have been preparing circulars, and instructions 
to ministers, and the like, all in perfect harmony, without even a 
suggestion that we had no foreign policy. 

Upon your closing propositions, that 'whatever policy we 
adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution of it'; 

'For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue 
and direct it incessantly ' ; 

'Either the President must do it himself, and be all the while 
active in it, or'; 

'Devolve it on some member of his cabinet'; 

'Once adopted, debates on it must end, and all agree and 
abide'; I remark that if this must be done, / must do it. When 
a general line of policy is adopted, I apprehend there is no 
danger of its being changed without good reason, or continuing 
to be a subject of unnecessary debate; still, upon points arising 
in its progress, I wish, and suppose I am entitled to have the 
advice of all the cabinet. Your Obt. Servt. 


Proclamation calling up militia and convening Congress. 

15th April 1861. 

By the President of the United States 
A Proclamation 

Whereas the laws of the United States have been for some time 
past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, 
in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, 
Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful 
to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, 
or by the powers vested in the Marshals by law, 

Now therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United 
States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, 
and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call 
forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the 
aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress 
said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed. 
The details, for this object, will be immediately communicated 
to the State authorities through the War Department. 

I appeal to all loyal citizens to favour, facilitate, and aid this 
effort to maintain the honour, the integrity, and the existence of 
our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; 
and to redress wrongs already long enough endured. 

I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the 
forces hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, 
places, and property which have been seized from the Union; 
and in every event, the utmost care will be observed, consistently 
with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruc- 
tion of, or interference with, property, or any disturbance of 
peaceful citizens in any part of the country. 

And I hereby command the persons composing the combina- 
tions aforesaid to disperse, and retire peaceably to their respective 
abodes within twenty days from this date. 

Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents 
an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in 
me vested by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. 
Senators and Representatives are therefore summoned to 
assemble at their respective chambers, at twelve o'clock, noon, 
on Thursday, the fourth day of July, next, then and there to 


consider and determine, such measures, as, in their wisdom, the 
public safety, and interest may seem to demand. 

In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused 
the Seal of the United States to be affixed. 

Done at the city of Washington this fifteenth day of 
April in the year of our Lord One thousand, Eight hundred 
and Sixty-one, and of the Independence of the United 
States the Eighty-fifth. 

Abraham Lincoln. 
By the President 
William H. Seward, Secretary of State. 

Reply to a Baltimore Committee. 

22nd April 1861. 

You, gentlemen, come here to me and ask for peace on any 
terms, and yet have no word of condemnation for those who are 
making war on us. You express great horror of bloodshed, and 
yet would not lay a straw in the way of those who are organizing 
in Virginia and elsewhere to capture this city. The rebels attack 
Fort Sumter, and your citizens attack troops sent to the defence 
of the government, 1 and the lives and property in Washington, 
and yet you would have me break my oath and surrender the 
government without a blow. There is no Washington in that — 
no Jackson in that — no manhood nor honour in that. I have 
no desire to invade the South ; but I must have troops to defend 
this Capital. Geographically it lies surrounded by the soil of 
Maryland; and mathematically the necessity exists that they 
should come over her territory. Our men are not moles, and 
can't dig under the earth ; they are not birds, and can't fly through 
the air. There is no way but to march across, and that they must 
do. But in doing this there is no need of collision. Keep your 
rowdies in Baltimore, and there will be no bloodshed. Go 
home and tell your people that if they will not attack us, we will 
not attack them ; but if they do attack us, we will return it, and 
that severely. 

1 On 19th April a secessionist mob had attacked the 6th Massachusetts 
Regiment as it passed through Baltimore, killing several soldiers. 


Letter to Gustavus V. Fox, who had commanded the Fort Sumter 

1st May 1861. 

My dear Sir: I sincerely regret that the failure of the late 
attempt to provision Fort Sumter, should be the source of any 
annoyance to you. The practicability of your plan was not, in 
fact, brought to a test. By reason of a gale, well known in 
advance to be possible, and not improbable, the tugs, an essential 
part of the plan, never reached the ground; while, by an accident, 
for which you were in no wise responsible, and possibly I, to 
some extent was, you were deprived of a war vessel with her 
men, which you deemed of great importance to the enterprise. 

I most cheerfully and truly declare that the failure of the 
undertaking has not lowered you a particle, while the qualities 
you developed in the effort, have greatly heightened you, in my 
estimation. For a daring and dangerous enterprise, of a similar 
character, you would, to-day, be the man, of all my acquain- 
tances, whom I would select. 

You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would 
be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, 
even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel 
that our anticipation is justified by the result. Very truly your 

Letter to the parents of Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth, killed at Alexan- 
dria, Virginia, on the preceding day. 

25th May 1861. 

My dear Sir and Madam: In the untimely loss of your noble 
son, our affliction here, is scarcely less than your own. So much 
of promised usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for 
one's self and friends, have rarely been so suddenly dashed, as in 
his fall. In size, in years, and in youthful appearance, a boy 
only, his power to command men, was surpassingly great. This 
power, combined with a fine intellect, an indomitable energy, 
and a taste altogether military, constituted in him, as seemed to 
me, the best natural talent, in that department, I ever knew. 
And yet he was singularly modest and deferential in social inter- 
course. My acquaintance with him began less than two years 


ago ; yet through the latter half of the intervening period, it was 
as intimate as the disparity of our ages, and my engrossing 
engagements, would permit. To me, he appeared to have no 
indulgences or pastimes; and I never heard him utter a profane, 
or an intemperate word. What was conclusive of his good heart, 
he never forgot his parents. The honours he laboured for so 
laudably, and, in the sad end, so gallantly gave his life, he meant 
for them, no less than for himself. 

In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of 
your sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the 
memory of my young friend, and your brave and early fallen child. 

May God give you that consolation which is beyond all earthly 
power. Sincerely your friend in a common affliction 

From the President's message to Congress in special session. 

4th July 1861. 

Fellow-citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives: 
Having been convened on an extraordinary occasion, as author- 
ized by the Constitution, your attention is not called to any 
ordinary subject of legislation. 

At the beginning of the present presidential term, four months 
ago, the functions of the federal government were found to be 
generally suspended within the several states of South Carolina, 
Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, except- 
ing only those of the Post Office Department. 

Within these states, all the forts, arsenals, dockyards, custom- 
houses, and the like, including the movable and stationary pro- 
perty in and about them, had been seized, and were held in open 
hostility to this government, excepting only Forts Pickens, 
Taylor, and Jefferson, on, and near the Florida coast, and Fort 
Sumter, in Charleston harbour, South Carolina. The forts 
thus seized had been put in improved condition; new ones had 
been built; and armed forces had been organized, and were 
organizing, all avowedly with the same hostile purpose. 

The forts remaining in the possession of the federal govern- 
ment, in, and near, these states, were either besieged or menaced 
by warlike preparations; and especially Fort Sumter was nearly 
surrounded by well-protected hostile batteries, with guns equal 


in quality to the best of its own, and outnumbering the latter as 
perhaps ten to one. A disproportionate share of the federal 
muskets and rifles had somehow found their way into these 
states, ancf had been seized, to be used against the government. 
Accumulation of the public revenue, lying within them, had been 
seized for the same object. The Navy was scattered in distant 
seas; leaving but a very small part of it within the immediate 
reach of the government. Officers of the Federal Army and 
Navy, had resigned in great numbers ; and, of those resigning, a 
large proportion had taken up arms against the government. 
Simultaneously, and in connection with all this, the purpose to 
sever the Federal Union was openly avowed. In accordance 
with this purpose, an ordinance had been adopted in each of 
these states, declaring the states, respectively, to be separated 
from the national Union. A formula for instituting a combined 
government of these states had been promulgated; and this 
illegal organization, in the character of Confederate States, was 
already invoking recognition, aid, and intervention, from foreign 

Finding this condition of things, and believing it to be an 
imperative duty upon the incoming Executive to prevent, if 
possible, the consummation of such attempt to destroy the 
Federal Union, a choice of means to that end became indispen- 
sable. This choice was made; and was declared in the inaugural 
address. The policy chosen looked to the exhaustion of all 
peaceful measures, before a resort to any stronger ones. It 
sought only to hold the public places and property, not already 
wrested from the government, and to collect the revenue; 
relying for the rest on time, discussion, and the ballot-box. It 
promised a continuance of the mails, at government expense, to 
the very people who were resisting the government; and it gave 
repeated pledges against any disturbance to any of the people, 
or any of their rights. Of all that which a President might 
constitutionally, and justifiably, do in such a case, everything 
was forborne, without which it was believed possible to keep the 
government on foot. 

On the 5th of March (the present incumbent's first full day in 
office) a letter of Major Anderson, commanding at Fort Sumter, 
written on the 28th of February, and received at the War Depart- 
ment on the 4th of March, was, by that department, placed in his 


hands. This letter expressed the professional opinion of the 
writer, that reinforcements could not be thrown into that fort 
within the time for his relief, rendered necessary by the limited 
supply of provisions, and with a view of holding possession of 
the same, with a force of less than twenty thousand good, and 
well-disciplined men. This opinion was concurred in by all the 
officers of his command; and their memoranda on the subject, 
were made enclosures of Major Anderson's letter. The whole 
was immediately laid before Lieutenant-General Scott, who at 
once concurred with Major Anderson in opinion. On reflection, 
however, he took full time, consulting with other officers, both 
of the Army and the Navy; and, at the end of four days, came 
reluctantly, but decidedly, to the same conclusion as before. 
He also stated at the same time that no such sufficient force was 
then at the control of the government, or could be raised, and 
brought to the ground, within the time when the provisions in the 
fort would be exhausted. In a purely military point of view, 
this reduced the duty of the administration, in the case, to the 
mere matter of getting the garrison safely out of the fort. 

It was believed, however, that to so abandon that position, 
under the circumstances, would be utterly ruinous; that the 
necessity under which it was to be done, would not be fully 
understood — that, by many, it would be construed as a part of 
a voluntary policy — that, at home, it would discourage the friends 
of the Union, embolden its adversaries, and go far to insure to 
the latter, a recognition abroad — that, in fact, it would be our 
national destruction consummated. This could not be allowed. 
Starvation was not yet upon the garrison; and ere it would be 
reached, Fort Pickens might be reinforced. This last would be 
a clear indication of policy, and would better enable the country 
to accept the evacuation of Fort Sumter, as a military necessity. 
An order was at once directed to be sent for the landing of the 
troops from the Steamship Brooklyn, into Fort Pickens. This 
order could not go by land, but must take the longer and slower 
route by sea. The first return news from the order was received 
just one week before the fall of Fort Sumter. The news itself 
was, that the officer commanding the Sabine, to which vessel the 
troops had been transferred from the Brooklyn, acting upon some 
quasi armistice of the late administration (and of the existence of 
which, the present administration, up to the time the order was 


dispatched, had only too vague and uncertain rumours, to fix 
attention), had refused to land the troops. To now reinforce 
Fort Pickens, before a crisis would be reached at Fort Sumter, 
was impossible — rendered so by the near exhaustion of provisions 
in the latter-named fort. In precaution against such a conjunc- 
ture, the government had, a few days before, commenced pre- 
paring an expedition, as well adapted as might be, to relieve Fort 
Sumter, which expedition was intended to be ultimately used, or 
not, according to circumstances. The strongest anticipated case 
for using it was now presented ; and it was resolved to send it 
forward. As had been intended, in this contingency, it was also 
resolved to notify the Governor of South Carolina, that he 
might expect an attempt would be made to provision the fort; 
and that, if the attempt should not be resisted, there would be no 
effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition, without further 
notice, or in case of an attack upon the fort. This notice was 
accordingly given ; whereupon the fort was attacked, and bom- 
barded to its fall, without even awaiting the arrival of the 
provisioning expedition. 

It is thus seen that the assault upon, and reduction of, Fort 
Sumter, was in no sense a matter of self-defence on the part of 
the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the fort could, 
by no possibility, commit aggression upon them. They knew — 
they were expressly notified — that the giving of bread to the few 
brave and hungry men of the garrison, was all which would on 
that occasion be attempted, unless themselves, by resisting so 
much, should provoke more. They knew that this government 
desired to keep the garrison in the fort, not to assail them, but 
merely to maintain visible possession, and thus to preserve the 
Union from actual and immediate dissolution — trusting, as 
hereinbefore stated, to time, discussion, and the ballot-box, for 
final adjustment; and they assailed, and reduced the fort, for 
precisely the reverse object — to drive out the visible authority of 
the Federal Union, and thus force it to immediate dissolution. 

That this was their object, the Executive well understood; and 
having said to them in the inaugural address : ' You can have no 
conflict without being yourselves the aggressors,' he took pains, 
not only to keep this declaration good, but also to keep the case 
so free from the power of ingenious sophistry, as that the world 
should not be able to misunderstand it. By the affair at Fort 


Sumter, with its surrounding circumstances, that point was 
reached. Then, and thereby, the assailants of the government, 
began the conflict of arms, without a gun in sight, or in expect- 
ancy, to return their fire, save only the few in the fort, sent to that 
harbour years before for their own protection, and still ready to 
give that protection, in whatever was lawful. In this act, dis- 
carding all else, they have forced upon the country the distinct 
issue: 'Immediate dissolution, or blood.' 

And this issue embraces more than the fate of these United 
States. It presents to the whole family of man the question, 
whether a constitutional republic, or a democracy — a government 
of the people, by the same people — can, or cannot, maintain its 
territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents 
the question, whether discontented individuals, too few in 
numbers to control administration according to organic law, in 
any case, can always, upon the pretences made in this case, or 
on any other pretences, or arbitrarily, without any pretence, 
break up their government, and thus practically put an end to 
free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask: 'Is there, 
in all republics, this inherent, and fatal weakness?' 'Must a 
government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its 
own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?' 

So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the war 
power of the government; and so to resist force employed for its 
destruction, by force for its preservation. 

The call was made; and the response of the country was most 
gratifying; surpassing, in unanimity and spirit, the most sanguine 
expectation. Yet none of the states commonly called slave- 
states, except Delaware, gave a regiment through regular state 
organization. A few regiments have been organized within 
some others of those states, by individual enterprise, and received 
into the government service. Of course the seceded states, so- 
called (and to which Texas had been joined about the time of 
the inauguration), gave no troops to the cause of the Union. 
The border states, so-called, were not uniform in their actions; 
some of them being almost for the Union, while in others — as 
Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas — the Union 
sentiment was nearly repressed and silenced. The course taken 
in Virginia was the most remarkable — perhaps the most impor- 
tant. A convention, elected by the people of that state, to 


consider this very question of disrupting the Federal Union, was 
in session at the capital of Virginia when Fort Sumter fell. To 
this body the people had chosen a large majority of professed 
Union men. Almost immediately after the fall of Sumter, 
many members of that majority went over to the original dis- 
union minority, and, with them, adopted an ordinance for with- 
drawing the state from the Union. Whether this change was 
wrought by their great approval of the assault upon Sumter, or 
their great resentment at the government's resistance to that 
assault, is not definitely known. Although they submitted the 
ordinance, for ratification, to a vote of the people, to be taken 
on a day then somewhat more than a month distant, the con- 
vention, and the legislature (which was also in session at the 
same time and place), with leading men of the state, not members 
of either, immediately commenced acting as if the state were 
already out of the Union. They pushed military preparations 
vigorously forward all over the state. They seized the United 
States Armoury at Harper's Ferry, and the navy-yard at Gosport, 
near Norfolk. They received — perhaps invited — into their state 
large bodies of troops, with their warlike appointments, from the 
so-called seceded states. They formally entered into a treaty of 
temporary alliance and co-operation with the so-called 'Con- 
federate States,' and sent members to their Congress at Mont- 
gomery. And, finally, they permitted the insurrectionary 
government to be transferreed to their capital at Richmond. 

The people of Virginia have thus allowed this giant insurrection 
to make its nest within her borders ; and this government has no 
choice left but to deal with it, where it finds it. And it has the 
less regret, as the loyal citizens have, in due form, claimed its 
protection. Those loyal citizens this government is bound to 
recognize, and protect, as being Virginia. 

In the border states, so-called — in fact, the middle states — 
there are those who favour a policy which they call 'armed 
neutrality' — that is, an arming of those states to prevent the 
Union forces passing one way, or the disunion, the other, over 
their soil. This would be disunion completed. Figuratively 
speaking, it would be the building of an impassable wall along 
the line of separation. And yet, not quite an impassable one; 
for, under the guise of neutrality, it would tie the hands of the 
Union men, and freely pass supplies from among them to the 


insurrectionists, which it could not do as an open enemy. At 
a stroke, it would take all the trouble off the hands of secession, 
except only what proceeds from the external blockade. It would 
do for the disunionists that which, of all things, they most desire 
— feed them well, and give them disunion without a struggle of 
their own. It recognizes no fidelity to the Constitution, no 
obligation to maintain the Union ; and while very many who have 
favoured it are, doubtless, loyal citizens, it is, nevertheless, 
treason in effect. . . . 

Soon after the first call for militia, it was considered a duty to 
authorize the Commanding General, in proper cases, according 
to his discretion, to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas 
corpus ; or, in other words, to arrest, and detain, without resort 
to the ordinary processes and forms of law, such individuals as 
he might deem dangerous to the public safety. This authority 
has purposely been exercised but very sparingly. Nevertheless, 
the legality and propriety of what has been done under it are 
questioned; and the attention of the country has been called to 
the proposition that one who is sworn to ' take care that the laws 
be faithfully executed,' should not himself violate them. Of 
course some consideration was given to the questions of power 
and propriety before this matter was acted upon. The whole of 
the laws which were required to be faithfully executed, were being 
resisted, and failing of execution, in nearly one-third of the 
states. Must they be allowed to finally fail of execution, even 
had it been perfectly clear, that by the use of the means necessary 
to their execution, some single law, made in such extreme tender- 
ness of the citizen's liberty, that practically, it relieves more of 
the guilty, than of the innocent, should, to a very limited extent, 
be violated? To state the question more directly, are all the 
laws but one to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to 
pieces, lest that one be violated? Even in such a case, would not 
the official oath be broken if the government should be over- 
thrown, when it was believed that disregarding the single law 
would tend to preserve it? But it was not believed that this 
question was presented. It was not believed that any law was 
violated. The provision of the Constitution that 'The privilege 
of the writ of habeas corpus, shall not be suspended unless when, 
in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it,' 
is equivalent to a provision — is a provision — that such privilege 


may be suspended when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the 
public safety does require it. It was decided that we have a 
case of rebellion, and that the public safety does require the 
qualified suspension of the privilege of the writ which was 
authorized to be made. Now it is insisted that Congress, and 
not the Executive, is vested with this power. But the Constitu- 
tion itself is silent as to which, or who, is to exercise the power; 
and as the provision was plainly made for a dangerous emergency, 
it cannot be believed the framers of the instrument intended that 
in every case the danger should run its course, until Congress 
could be called together; the very assembling of which might be 
prevented, as was intended in this case, by the rebellion. . . . 

It might seem, at first thought, to be of little difference whether 
the present movement at the South be called 'secession' or 
'rebellion.' The movers, however, well understand the dif- 
ference. At the beginning, they knew they could never raise 
their treason to any respectable magnitude, by any name which 
implies violation of law. They knew their people possessed as 
much of moral sense, as much of devotion to law and order, and 
as much pride in, and reverence for, the history and government 
of their common country, as any other civilized and patriotic 
people. They knew they could make no advancement directly 
in the teeth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly 
they commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind. 
They invented an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was 
followed by perfectly logical steps, through all the incidents, 
to the complete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself 
is, that any state of the Union may, consistently with the national 
Constitution, and therefore lawfully, and peacefully withdraw 
from the Union, without the consent of the Union, or of any 
other state. The little disguise that the supposed right is to be 
exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the sole judge of 
its justice, is too thin to merit any notice. 

With rebellion thus sugar-coated, they have been drugging the 
public mind of their section for more than thirty years; and, 
until at length, they have brought many good men to a willingness 
to take up arms against the government the day after some 
assemblage of men have enacted the farcical pretence of taking 
their state out of the Union, who could have been brought to no 
such thing the day before. 


This sophism derives much — perhaps the whole — of its 
currency from the assumption that there is some omnipotent and 
sacred supremacy pertaining to a state — to each state of our 
Federal Union. Our states have neither more nor less power, 
than that reserved to them, in the Union, by the Constitution — 
no one of them ever having been a state out of the Union. The 
original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their 
British colonial dependence; and the new ones each came into 
the Union directly from a condition of dependence, excepting 
Texas. And even Texas, in its temporary independence, was 
never designated a state. The new ones only took the designa- 
tion of states, on coming into the Union, while that name was 
first adopted for the old ones, in, and by, the Declaration of 
Independence. Therein the 'United Colonies' were declared to 
be 'Free and Independent States'; but, even then, the object 
plainly was not to declare their independence of one another, or 
of the Union ; but directly the contrary, as their mutual pledge, 
and their mutual action, before, at the time, and afterwards, 
abundantly show. The express plighting of faith, by each and 
all of the original thirteen, in the Articles of Confederation, two 
years later, that the Union shall be perpetual, is most conclusive. 
Having never been states, either in substance, or in name, 
outside of the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of 'state 
rights,' asserting a claim of power to lawfully destroy the Union 
itself? Much is said about the 'sovereignty' of the states; but 
the word, even, is not in the national Constitution; nor, as is 
believed, in any of the state constitutions. What is ' sovereignty,* 
in the political sense of the term? Would it be far wrong to 
define it 'A political community, without a political superior'? 
Tested by this, no one of our states, except Texas, ever was a 
sovereignty. And even Texas gave up the character on coming 
into the Union ; by which act, she acknowledged the Constitution 
of the United States, and the laws and treaties of the United 
States made in pursuance of the Constitution, to be, for her, the 
supreme law of the land. The states have their status in the 
Union, and they have no other legal status. If they break from 
this they can only do so against law and by revolution. The 
Union, and not themselves separately, procured their indepen- 
dence and their liberty. By conquest, or purchase, the Union, 
gave each of them whatever of independence, and liberty, it has. 

176 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

The Union is older than any of the states ; and, in fact, it created 
them as states. Originally, some dependent colonies made the 
Union; and, in turn, the Union threw off their old dependence 
for them, and made them states, such as they are. Not one of 
them ever had a state constitution independent of the Union. 
Of course, it is not forgotten that all the new states framed their 
constitutions before they entered the Union; nevertheless, depen- 
dent upon and preparatory to, coming into the Union. 

Unquestionably the states have the powers, and rights, reserved 
to them in and by the national Constitution; but among these, 
surely, are not included all conceivable powers, however mis- 
chievous or destructive; but, at most, such only as were known 
in the world, at the time, as governmental powers; and certainly, 
a power to destroy the government itself, had never been known 
as a governmental — as a merely administrative power. This 
relative matter of national power, and state rights, as a principle, 
is no other than the principle of generality, and locality. What- 
ever concerns the whole, should be confided to the whole — to the 
general government; while, whatever concerns only the state, 
should be left exclusively to the state. This is all there is of 
original principle about it. Whether the national Constitution, 
in defining boundaries between the two, has applied the principle 
with exact accuracy, is not to be questioned. We are all bound 
by that defining, without question. . . . 

The seceders insist that our Constitution admits of secession. 
They have assumed to make a national Constitution of their own, 
in which, of necessity, they have either discarded or retained the 
right of secession, as they insist it exists in ours. If they have 
discarded it, they thereby admit that, on principle, it ought not 
to be in ours. If they have retained it, by their own construction 
of ours they show that to be consistent they must secede from 
one another, whenever they shall find it the easiest way of settling 
their debts, or effecting any other selfish or unjust object. The 
principle itself is one of disintegration, and upon which no 
government can possibly endure. 

If all the states, save one, should assert the power to drive that 
one out of the Union, it is presumed the whole class of seceder 
politicians would at once deny the power, and denounce the act 
as the greatest outrage upon state rights. But suppose that 
precisely the same act, instead of being called ' driving the one 


out,' should be called 'the seceding of the others from that one,' 
it would be exactly what the seceders claim to do ; unless, indeed, 
they make the point, that the one, because it is a minority, may 
rightfully do what the others, because they are a majority, may 
not rightfully do. These politicians are subtle and profound on 
the rights of minorities. They are not partial to that power 
which made the Constitution, and speaks from the preamble, 
calling itself ' We, the People.' 

It may well be questioned whether there is, to-day, a majority 
of the legally qualified voters of any state, except perhaps South 
Carolina, in favour of disunion. There is much reason to believe 
that the Union men are the majority in many, if not in every 
other one, of the so-called seceded states. The contrary has not 
been demonstrated in any one of them. It is ventured to affirm 
this, even of Virginia and Tennessee; for the result of an election, 
held in military camps, where the bayonets are all on one side 
of the question voted upon, can scarcely be considered as 
demonstrating popular sentiment. At such an election, all that 
large class who are, at once, for the Union, and against coercion 
would be coerced to vote against the Union. 

It may be affirmed, without extravagance, that the free institu- 
tions we enjoy, have developed the powers, and improved the 
condition of our whole people, beyond any example in the world. 
Of this we now have a striking and an impressive illustration. 
So large an army as the government has now on foot, was never 
before known without a soldier in it but who had taken his place 
there of his own free choice. But more than this: there are 
many single regiments whose members, one and another, possess 
full practical knowledge of all the arts, sciences, professions, and 
whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known in the world; 
and there is scarcely one from which there could not be selected 
a president, a cabinet, a congress, and perhaps a court, abun- 
dantly competent to administer the government itself. Nor do 
I say this is not true, also, in the army of our late friends, now 
adversaries, in this contest; but if it is, so much better the reason 
why the government, which has conferred such benefits on both 
them and us, should not be broken up. Whoever, in any 
section, proposes to abandon such a government, would do well 
to consider, in deference to what principle it is that he does it — 
what better he is likely to get in its stead — whether the substitute 

G 206 


will give, or be intended to give, so much of good to the people. 
There are some foreshadowings on this subject. Our adversaries 
have adopted some declarations of independence; in which, 
unlike the good old one, penned by Jefferson, they omit the words 
'all men are created equal.' Why? They have adopted a 
temporary national constitution, in the preamble of which, unlike 
our good old one, signed by Washington, they omit 'We, the 
People,' and substitute 'We, the deputies of the sovereign and 
independent states.' Why? Why this deliberate pressing out 
of view, the rights of men and the authority of the people? 

This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union, 
it is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form and sub- 
stance of government, whose leading object is to elevate the 
condition of men — to lift artificial weights from all shoulders — 
to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all — to afford all an 
unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life. Yielding 
to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the 
leading object of the government for whose existence we contend. 

I am most happy to believe that the plain people understand 
and appreciate this. It is worthy of note, that while in this, the 
government's hour of trial, large numbers of those in the Army 
and Navy who have been favoured with the offices have resigned, 
and proved false to the hand which had pampered them, not one 
common soldier or common sailor is known to have deserted 
his flag. 

Great honour is due to those officers who remain true, despite 
the example of their treacherous associates; but the greatest 
honour, and most important fact of all, is the unanimous firmness 
of the common soldiers and common sailors. To the last man, 
so far as known, they have successfully resisted the traitorous 
efforts of those, whose commands, but an hour before, they 
obeyed as absolute law. This is the patriotic instinct of the plain 
people. They understand, without an argument, that destroying 
the government, which was made by Washington, means no good 
to them. 

Our popular government has often been called an experiment. 
Two points in it our people have already settled — the successful 
establishing, and the successful administering of it. One still 
remains — its successful maintenance against a formidable attempt 
to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world, 


that those who can fairly carry an election, can also suppress a 
rebellion — that ballots are the rightful, and peaceful, successors 
of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly, and constitutionally, 
decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that 
there can be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves, at 
succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace; 
teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither 
can they take it by a war — teaching all the folly of being the 
beginners of a war. 

Lest there be some uneasiness in the minds of candid men, as 
to what is to be the course of the government towards the 
southern states after the rebellion shall have been suppressed, the 
Executive deems it proper to say, it will be his purpose then, as 
ever, to be guided by the Constitution and the laws ; and that he 
probably will have no different understanding of the powers and 
duties of the federal government, relatively to the rights of the 
states and the people under the Constitution, than that expressed 
in the inaugural address. 

He desires to preserve the government, that it may be adminis- 
tered for all, as it was administered by the men who made it. 
Loyal citizens everywhere, have the right to claim this of their 
government; and the government has no right to withhold or 
neglect it. It is not perceived that, in giving it, there is any 
coercion, any conquest, or any subjugation, in any just sense of 
those terms. 

The Constitution provides, and all the states have accepted the 
provision, that 'The United States shall guarantee to every state 
in this Union a republican form of government.' But, if a state 
may lawfully go out of the Union, having done so it may also 
discard the republican form of government; so that to prevent 
its going out is an indispensable means to the end of maintaining 
the guarantee mentioned; and when an end is lawful and obliga- 
tory, the indispensable means to it are also lawful and obligatory. 

It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found the duty 
of employing the war-power, in defence of the government, 
forced upon him. He could but perform this duty, or surrender 
the existence of the government. No compromise by public 
servants, could, in this case, be a cure; not that compromises are 
not often proper, but that no popular government can long 
survive a marked precedent, that those who carry an election, 


can only save the government from immediate destruction, by 
giving up the main point upon which the people gave the election. 
The people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse 
their own deliberate decisions. As a private citizen, the Execu- 
tive could not have consented that these institutions shall perish ; 
much less could he, in betrayal of so vast, and so sacred a trust, 
as these free people had confided to him. He felt that he had no 
moral right to shrink ; nor even to count the chances of his own 
life, in what might follow. In full view of his great responsibility, 
he has, so far, done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, 
according to your own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely 
hopes that your views, and your action, may so accord with 
his as to assure all faithful citizens, who have been disturbed in 
their rights, of a certain and speedy restoration to them, under 
the Constitution, and the laws. 

And having thus chosen our course, without guile and with 
pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward 
without fear, and with manly hearts. 

Letter to Beriah Magoffin, Governor of Kentucky. 

24th August 1861. 

Sir: Your letter of the 19th inst. in which you 'urge the removal 
from the limits of Kentucky of the military force now organized, 
and in camp within said State' is received. 

I may not possess full and precisely accurate knowledge upon 
this subject; but I believe it is true that there is a military force in 
camp within Kentucky, acting by authority of the United States, 
which force is not very large, and is not now being augmented. 

I also believe that some arms have been furnished to this force 
by the United States. 

I also believe this force consists exclusively of Kentuckians, 
having their camp in the immediate vicinity of their own homes, 
and not assailing, or menacing, any of the good people of 

In all I have done in the premises, I have acted upon the urgent 
solicitation of many Kentuckians, and in accordance with what 
I believed, and still believe, to be the wish of a majority of all 
the Union-loving people of Kentucky. 


While I have conversed on this subject with many eminent men 
of Kentucky, including a large majority of her Members of 
Congress, I do not remember that any one of them, or any other 
person, except your Excellency and the bearers of your Excel- 
lency's letter, has urged me to remove the military force from 
Kentucky, or to disband it. One other very worthy citizen of 
Kentucky did solicit me to have the augmenting of the force 
suspended for a time. 

Taking all the means within my reach to form a judgment, I do 
not believe it is the popular wish of Kentucky that this force 
shall be removed beyond her limits; and, with this impression, 
I must respectfully decline to so remove it. 

I most cordially sympathize with your Excellency, in the wish 
to preserve the peace of my own native state, Kentucky, but it is 
with regret I search, and cannot find, in your not very short 
letter, any declaration or intimation that you entertain any desire 
for the preservation of the Federal Union. Your obedient 

Letter to Senator Orville H. Browning, who had been appointed to 
serve the unexpired term of Stephen A. Douglas, deceased. 

22nd September 1861. 

My dear Sir: Yours of the 17th is just received; and coming 
from you, I confess it astonishes me. That you should object to 
my adhering to a law, which you had assisted in making, and 
presenting to me, less than a month before, is odd enough. But 
this is a very small part. Genl. Fremont's proclamation, as to 
confiscation of property, and the liberation of slaves, is purely 
political, and not within the range of military law, or necessity. 1 
If a commanding general finds a necessity to seize the farm of a 
private owner, for a pasture, an encampment, or a fortification, 
he has the right to do so, and to so hold it, as long as the necessity 
lasts; and this is within military law, because within military 

1 On 30th August 1861' General John C. Fremont, commanding the 
Union forces in Missouri, had issued a proclamation declaring the property 
of Missourians in rebellion confiscated and their slaves emancipated. 
Lincoln asked Fremont to modify the proclamation; the general refused. 
Lincoln then ordered modifications which had the practical effect of 
rescinding the document. 


necessity. But to say the farm shall no longer belong to the 
owner, or his heirs forever; and this as well when the farm is not 
needed for military purposes as when it is, is purely political, 
without the savour of military law about it. And the same is true 
of slaves. If the General needs them, he can seize them, and use 
them; but when the need is past, it is not for him to fix their 
permanent future condition. That must be settled according to 
laws made by lawmakers, and not by military proclamations. 
The proclamation in the point in question, is simply 'dictator- 
ship.' It assumes that the General may do anything he pleases — 
confiscate the lands and free the slaves of loyal people as well as 
of disloyal ones. And going the whole figure I have no doubt 
would be more popular with some thoughtless people, than that 
which has been done! But I cannot assume this reckless posi- 
tion; nor allow others to assume it on my responsibility. You 
speak of it as being the only means of saving the government. On 
the contrary it is itself the surrender of the government. Can it 
be pretended that it is any longer the government of the U.S. — 
any government of Constitution and laws — wherein a General, 
or a President, may make permanent rules of property by 

I do not say Congress might not with propriety pass a law on 
the point, just such as General Fremont proclaimed. I do not 
say I might not, as a member of Congress, vote for it. What 
I object to is, that I as President shall expressly or impliedly 
seize and exercise the permanent legislative functions of the 

So much as to principle. Now as to policy. No doubt the 
thing was popular in some quarters, and would have been more 
so if it had been a general declaration of emancipation. The 
Kentucky legislature would not budge till that proclamation 
was modified; and Gen. Anderson telegraphed me that on the 
news of Gen. Fremont having actually issued deeds of manu- 
mission, a whole company of our volunteers threw down their 
arms and disbanded. I was so assured, as to think it probable, 
that the very arms we had furnished Kentucky would be turned 
against us. I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to 
lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we cannot hold Missouri, 
nor, as I think, Maryland. These all against us, and the job on 
our hands is too large for us. We would as well consent to 


separation at once, including the surrender of this capital. On 
the contrary, if you will give up your restlessness for new posi- 
tions, and back me manfully on the grounds upon which you and 
other kind friends gave me the election, and have approved in my 
public documents, we shall go through triumphantly. 

You must not understand I took my course on the proclama- 
tion because of Kentucky. I took the same ground in a private 
letter to General Fremont before I heard from Kentucky. 

You think I am inconsistent because I did not also forbid Gen. 
Fremont to shoot men under the proclamation. I understand 
that part to be within military law; but I also think, and so 
privately wrote Gen. Fremont, that it is impolitic in this, that 
our adversaries have the power, and will certainly exercise it, to 
shoot as many of our men as we shoot of theirs. I did not say 
this in the public letter, because it is a subject I prefer not to 
discuss in the hearing of our enemies. 

There has been no thought of removing Gen. Fremont on any 
ground connected with his proclamation ; and if there has been 
any wish for his removal on any ground, our mutual friend Sam. 
Glover can probably tell you what it was. I hope no real 
necessity for it exists on any ground. . . . Your friend as ever 

Letter to Major George D. Ramsay about a widow with six children. 

17th October 1861. 

My dear Sir: The lady — bearer of this — says she has two sons 
who want to work. Set them at it, if possible. Wanting to 
work is so rare a merit, that it should be encouraged. Yours 

From the Annual Message to Congress. 

3rd December 1861. 

. . . The inaugural address at the beginning of the administra- 
tion, and the message to Congress at the late special session, were 
both mainly devoted to the domestic controversy out of which 
the insurrection and consequent war have sprung. Nothing now 
occurs to add or subtract, to or from, the principles or general 
purposes stated and expressed in those documents. 

184 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

The last ray of hope for preserving the Union peaceably, 
expired at the assault upon Fort Sumter; and a general review of 
what has occurred since may not be unprofitable. What was 
painfully uncertain then, is much better defined and more 
distinct now; and the progress of events is plainly in the right 
direction. The insurgents confidently claimed a strong support 
from north of Mason and Dixon's line; and the friends of the 
Union were not free from apprehension on the point. This, 
however, was soon settled definitely and on the right side. 
South of the line, noble little Delaware led off right from the first. 
Maryland was made to seem against the Union. Our soldiers 
were assaulted, bridges were burned, and railroads torn up, 
within her limits; and we were many days, at one time, without 
the ability to bring a single regiment over her soil to the capital. 
Now, her bridges and railroads are repaired and open to the 
government; she already gives seven regiments to the cause of 
the Union and none to the enemy; and her people, at a regular 
election, have sustained the Union by a larger majority and a 
larger aggregate vote than they ever before gave to any candidate, 
or any question. Kentucky, too, for some time in doubt, is now 
decidedly, and I think unchangeably, ranged on the side of the 
Union. Missouri is comparatively quiet; and I believe cannot 
again be overrun by the insurrectionists. These three states of 
Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, neither of which would 
promise a single soldier at first, have now an aggregate of not less 
than forty thousand in the field, for the Union; while, of their 
citizens, certainly not more than a third of that number, and they 
of doubtful whereabouts, and doubtful existence, are in arms 
against it. After a somewhat bloody struggle of months, winter 
closes on the Union people of western Virginia, leaving them 
masters of their own country. 

An insurgent force of about fifteen hundred, for months 
dominating the narrow peninsular region, constituting the coun- 
ties of Accomac and Northampton, and known as eastern shore 
of Virginia, together with some contiguous parts of Maryland, 
have laid down their arms; and the people there have renewed 
their allegiance to, and accepted the protection of, the old flag. 
This leaves no armed insurrectionist north of the Potomac, or 
east of the Chesapeake. 

Also we have obtained a footing at each of the isolated points, 


on the southern coast, of Hatteras, Port Royal, Tybee Island, 
near Savannah, and Ship Island; and we likewise have some 
general accounts of popular movements, in behalf of the Union, 
in North Carolina and Tennessee. 

These things demonstrate that the cause of the Union is 
advancing steadily and certainly southward. 

Since your last adjournment, Lieutenant General Scott has 
retired from the head of the army. During his long life, the 
nation has not been unmindful of his merit; yet, on calling to 
mind how faithfully, ably, and brilliantly he has served the 
country, from a time far back in our history, when few of the 
now living had been born, and thenceforward continually, I 
cannot but think we are still his debtors. I submit therefore, 
for your consideration, what further mark of recognition is due 
to him, and to ourselves, as a grateful people. 

With the retirement of General Scott came the executive duty 
of appointing, in his stead, a general-in-chief of the army. It is 
a fortunate circumstance that neither in council nor country was 
there, so far as I know, any difference of opinion as to the proper 
person to be selected. The retiring chief repeatedly expressed 
his judgment in favour of General McClellan for the position; 
and in this the nation seemed to give a unanimous concurrence. 
The designation of General McClellan is therefore in consider- 
able degree, the selection of the country as well as of the Execu- 
tive; and hence there is better reason to hope there will be given 
him, the confidence and cordial support thus, by fair implication 
promised, and without which, he cannot, with so full efficiency, 
serve the country. 

It has been said that one bad general is better than two good 
ones ; and the saying is true, if taken to mean no more than that 
an army is better directed by a single mind, though inferior, than 
by two superior ones, at variance and cross-purposes with each 

And the same is true, in all joint operations wherein those 
engaged can have none but a common end in view, and can differ 
only as to the choice of means. In a storm at sea, no one on 
board can wish the ship to sink; and yet, not unfrequently, all go 
down together, because too many will direct, and no single mind 
can be allowed to control. 

It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not 



exclusively, a war upon the first principle of popular government — 
the rights of the people. Conclusive evidence of this is found in 
the most grave and maturely considered public documents, as 
well as in the general tone of the insurgents. In those documents 
we find the abridgment of the existing right of suffrage and the 
denial to the people of all right to participate in the selection of 
public officers, except the legislative boldly advocated, with 
laboured arguments to prove that large control of the people 
in government, is the source of all political evil. Monarchy 
itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power 
of the people. 

In my present position, I could scarcely be justified were I to 
omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning 

It is not needed, nor fitting here, that a general argument 
should be made in favour of popular institutions ; but there is 
one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, 
to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital 
on an equal footing with, if not above labour, in the structure of 
government. It is assumed that labour is available only in 
connection with capital; that nobody labours unless somebody 
else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it, induces him to 
labour. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best 
that capital shall hire labourers, and thus induce them to work by 
their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without 
their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded 
that all labourers are either hired labourers, or what we call 
slaves. And further it is assumed that whoever is once a hired 
labourer, is fixed in that condition for life. 

Now, there is no such relation between capital and labour as 
assumed; nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed 
for life in the condition of a hired labourer. Both these assump- 
tions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless. 

Labour is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is 
only the fruit of labour, and could never have existed if labour 
had not first existed. Labour is the superior of capital, and 
deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, 
which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it 
denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation 
between labour and capital, producing mutual benefits. The 


error is in assuming that the whole labour of community exists 
within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few 
avoid labour themselves and, with their capital, hire or buy 
another few to labour for them. A large majority belong to 
neither class — neither work for others nor have others working 
for them. In most of the southern states, a majority of the 
whole people of all colours are neither slaves nor masters; while 
in the northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. 
Men with their families — wives, sons, and daughters — work for 
themselves, on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, 
taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favours of 
capital on the one hand nor of hired labourers or slaves on the 
other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons 
mingle their own labour with capital — that is, they labour with 
their own hands, and also buy or hire others to labour for them; 
but this is only a mixed, and not a distinct class. No principle 
stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class. 

Again : as has already been said, there is not, of necessity, any 
such thing as the free hired labourer being fixed to that condition 
for life. Many independent men everywhere in these states, a 
few years back in their lives, were hired labourers. The prudent, 
penniless beginner in the world, labours for wages awhile, saves a 
surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself; then labours 
on his own account another while, and at length hires another 
new beginner to help him. This is the just, and generous, and 
prosperous system, which opens the way to all — gives hope to 
all, and consequent energy, and progress, and improvement of 
condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted 
than those who toil up from poverty — none less inclined to take, 
or touch, aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them 
beware of surrendering a political power which they already 
possess, and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close 
the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new 
disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of liberty shall be lost. 

From the first taking of our national census to the last are 
seventy years; and we find our population at the end of the period 
eight times as great as it was at the beginning. The increase of 
those other things which men deem desirable has been even 
greater. We thus have at one view what the popular principle 
applied to government, through the machinery of the states and 

188 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

the Union, has produced in a given time; and also what, if 
firmly maintained, it promises for the future. There are already 
among us those, who, if the Union be preserved, will live to see it 
contain two hundred and fifty millions. The struggle of to-day 
is not altogether for to-day — it is for a vast future also. With a 
reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us 
proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us. 

Letter to Maj. Gen. David Hunter, a disgruntled officer. 

31st December 1861 

Dear Sir: Yours of the 23rd is received; and I am constrained 
to say it is difficult to answer so ugly a letter in good temper. I 
am, as you intimate, losing much of the great confidence I placed 
in you, not from any act or omission of yours touching the public 
service, up to the time you were sent to Leavenworth, but from 
the flood of grumbling dispatches and letters I have seen from 
you since. I knew you were being ordered to Leavenworth at 
the time it was done; and I aver that with as tender a regard for 
your honour and your sensibilities as I had for my own, it never 
occurred to me that you were being 'humiliated, insulted, and 
disgraced'; nor have I, up to this day, heard an intimation that 
you have been wronged, coming from anyone but yourself. No 
one has blamed you for the retrograde movement from Spring- 
field, nor for the information you gave Gen. Cameron; and this 
you could readily understand, if it were not for your unwarranted 
assumption that the ordering you to Leavenworth must neces- 
sarily have been done as a punishment for some fault. I thought 
then, and think yet, the position assigned to you is as responsible, 
and as honourable, as that assigned to Buell. I know that Gen. 
McClellan expected more important results from it. My impres- 
sion is that at the time you were assigned to the new Western 
Department, it had not been determined to replace Gen. Sherman 
in Kentucky ; but of this I am not certain, because the idea that 
a command in Kentucky was very desirable, and one in the 
farther West, very undesirable, had never occurred to me. You 
constantly speak of being placed in command of only 3,000. 
Now tell me, is not this mere impatience? Have you not known 
all the while that you are to command four or five times that many ? 


I have been, and am sincerely your friend; and if, as such, I 
dare to make a suggestion, I would say you are adopting the best 
possible way to ruin yourself. 'Act well your part, there all the 
honour lies.' He who does something at the head of one regi- 
ment, will eclipse him who does nothing at the head of a hundred. 
Your friend as ever 

To Queen Victoria: a letter of condolence on the death of Prince 

1st February 1862. 

Abraham Lincoln, 
President of the United States of America. 

To Her Majesty Victoria, 
Queen of the United Kingdom 
of Great Britain and Ireland, 

etc., etc., etc., Sendeth Greeting! 

Great and Good Friend : By a letter from your son, His Royal 
Highness, the Prince of Wales, which has just been received, I am 
informed of the overwhelming affliction which has fallen upon 
Your Majesty, by the untimely death of His Royal Highness the 
late Prince Consort, Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg. 

The offer of condolence in such cases is a customary cere- 
mony, which has its good uses, though it is conventional, and 
may sometimes be even insincere. But I would fain have Your 
Majesty apprehend, on this occasion, that real sympathy can 
exist, as real truthfulness can be practised, in the intercourse of 
nations. The people of the United States are kindred of the 
people of Great Britain. With all our distinct national interests, 
objects, and aspirations, we are conscious that our moral strength 
is largely derived from that relationship, and we think we do not 
deceive ourselves when we suppose that, by constantly cherishing 
cordial friendship and sympathy with the other branches of the 
family to which we belong, we impart to them not less strength 
than we derive from the same connection. Accidents, however, 
incidental to all states, and passions, common to all nations, often 
tend to disturb the harmony so necessary and so proper between 


countries, and to convert them into enemies. It was reserved 
for Your Majesty in sending your son, the Heir Apparent of the 
British throne, on a visit among us, to inaugurate a policy 
destined to counteract these injurious tendencies, as it has been 
Your Majesty's manifest endeavour, through a reign already of 
considerable length and of distinguished success, to cultivate the 
friendship on our part so earnestly desired. It is for this reason 
that you are honoured on this side of the Atlantic as a friend of 
the American people. The late Prince Consort was with suffi- 
cient evidence regarded as your counsellor in the same friendly 
relation. The American people, therefore, deplore his death 
and sympathize in Your Majesty's irreparable bereavement with 
an unaffected sorrow. This condolence may not be altogether 
ineffectual, since we are sure it emanates from only virtuous 
motives and natural affection. I do not dwell upon it, however, 
because I know that the Divine hand that has wounded, is the 
only one that can heal: And so, commending Your Majesty and 
the Prince Royal, the Heir Apparent, and all your afflicted 
family to the tender mercies of God, I remain Your Good Friend, 

Abraham Lincoln. 
Washington, 1st Feby. 1862. 
By the President : 
William H. Seward, Secretary of State. 

To the King of Siam: a letter of thanks and good will. 

3rd February 1862. 
Abraham Lincoln, 
President of the United States of America. 

To His Majesty Somdetch Phra Paramendr Maha Mongut, 
King of Siam, etc., etc. 

Great and Good Friend: I have received Your Majesty's two 
letters of the date of 14th February 1861. 

I have also received in good condition the royal gifts which 
accompanied those letters — namely, a sword of costly materials 
and exquisite workmanship; a photographic likeness of Your 
Majesty and of Your Majesty's beloved daughter; and also two 


elephants' tusks of length and magnitude such as indicate that 
they could have belonged only to an animal which was a native 
of Siam. 

Your Majesty's letters show an understanding that our laws 
forbid the President from receiving these rich presents as personal 
treasures. They are therefore accepted in accordance with Your 
Majesty's desire as tokens of your good will and friendship for 
the American people. Congress being now in session at this 
capital, I have had great pleasure in making known to them this 
manifestation of Your Majesty's munificence and kind considera- 

Under their directions the gifts will be placed among the 
archives of the government, where they will remain perpetually 
as tokens of mutual esteem and pacific dispositions more 
honourable to both nations than any trophies of conquest 
could be. 

I appreciate most highly Your Majesty's tender of good offices 
in forwarding to this government a stock from which a supply 
of elephants might be raised on our own soil. This government 
would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the 
object were one which could be made practically useful in the 
present condition of the United States. 

Our political jurisdiction, however, does not reach a latitude 
so low as to favour the multiplication of the elephant, and steam 
on land, as well as on water, has been our best and most efficient 
agent of transportation in internal commerce. 

I shall have occasion at no distant day to transmit to Your 
Majesty some token of indication of the high sense which this 
government entertains of Your Majesty's friendship. 

Meantime, wishing for Your Majesty a long and happy life, 
and for the generous and emulous people of Siam the highest 
possible prosperity, I commend both to the blessing of Almighty 
God. Your Good Friend, 

Abraham Lincoln. 
Washington, 3rd February 1862. 
By the President: 
William H. Seward, Secretary of State. 


Letter, with a memorandum, to General George B. McClellan, 
commanding the Army of the Potomac. 

3rd February 1862. 

My dear Sir: You and I have distinct, and different plans for 
a movement of the Army of the Potomac — yours to be down the 
Chesapeake, up the Rappahannock to Urbana, and across land 
to the terminus of the railroad on the York River — mine to move 
directly to a point on the railroad south-west of Manassas. 

If you will give me satisfactory answers to the following 
questions, I shall gladly yield my plan to yours. 

1st. Does not your plan involve a greatly larger expenditure 
of time, and money than mine? 

2nd. Wherein is a victory more certain by your plan than mine? 

3rd. Wherein is a victory more valuable by your plan than 

4th. In fact, would it not be less valuable, in this, that it would 
break no great line of the enemy's communications, while mine 

5th. In case of disaster, would not a safe retreat be more 
difficult by your plan than by mine? Yours truly 

[Memorandum accompanying Letter of President to General 
McClellan, dated 3rd February 1862] 

1. Suppose the enemy should attack us in force before we 
reach the Ocoquan, what? In view of the possibility of this, 
might it not be safest to have our entire force to move together 
from above the Ocoquan? 

2. Suppose the enemy, in force, shall dispute the crossing of the 
Ocoquan, what? In view of this, might it not be safest for us to 
cross the Ocoquan at Colchester rather than at the village of 
Ocoquan? This would cost the enemy two miles more of travel 
to meet us, but would, on the contrary, leave us two miles further 
from our ultimate destination. 

3. Suppose we reach Maple valley without an attack, will we 
not be attacked there, in force, by the enemy marching by the 
several roads from Manassas? and if so, what? 


Message to Congress on the compensated emancipation of slaves. 

6th March 1862. 

Fellow-citizens of the Senate, and House of Representatives : 
I recommend the adoption of a Joint Resolution by your honour- 
able bodies which shall be substantially as follows : 

* Resolved that the United States ought to co-operate with any 
state which may adopt gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to 
such state pecuniary aid, to be used by such state in its discretion, 
to compensate for the inconveniences public and private, pro- 
duced by such change of system.' 

If the proposition contained in the resolution does not meet the 
approval of Congress and the country, there is the end; but if it 
does command such approval, I deem it of importance that the 
states and people immediately interested should be at once dis- 
tinctly notified of the fact, so that they may begin to consider 
whether to accept or reject it. The federal government would 
find its highest interest in such a measure as one of the most 
efficient means of self-preservation. The leaders of the existing 
insurrection entertain the hope that this government will ulti- 
mately be forced to acknowledge the independence of some part 
of the disaffected region, and that all the slave states north of 
such part will then say 'the Union, for which we have struggled, 
being already gone, we now choose to go with the southern 
section.' To deprive them of this hope, substantially ends the 
rebellion; and the initiation of emancipation completely deprives 
them of it, as to all the states initiating it. The point is not that 
all the states tolerating slavery would very soon, if at all, initiate 
emancipation; but that, while the offer is equally made to all, the 
more northern shall, by such initiation, make it certain to the 
more southern, that in no event, will the former ever join the latter, 
in their proposed confederacy. I say ' initiation ' because, in my 
judgment, gradual, and not sudden emancipation, is better for 
all. In the mere financial or pecuniary view, any member of 
Congress, with the census-tables and Treasury reports before 
him, can readily see for himself how very soon the current 
expenditures of this war would purchase, at fair valuation, all 
the slaves in any named state. Such a proposition, on the part 
of the general government, sets up no claim of a right, by federal 


authority, to interfere with slavery within state limits, referring, 
as it does, the absolute control of the subject, in each case, to the 
state and its people immediately interested. It is proposed as a 
matter of perfectly free choice with them. 

In the annual message last December, I thought fit to say 'The 
Union must be preserved; and hence all indispensable means 
must be employed.' I said this, not hastily, but deliberately. 
War has been made, and continues to be an indispensable means 
to this end. A practical reacknowledgment of the national 
authority would render the war unnecessary, and it would at 
once cease. If, however, resistance continues, the war must also 
continue; and it is impossible to foresee all the incidents which 
may attend and all the ruin which may follow it. Such as may 
seem indispensable, or may obviously promise great efficiency 
towards ending the struggle, must and will come. 

The proposition now made, though an offer only, I hope it may 
be esteemed no offence to ask whether the pecuniary considera- 
tion tendered would not be of more value to the states and private 
persons concerned, than are the institution, and property in it, 
in the present aspect of affairs. 

While it is true that the adoption of the proposed resolution 
would be merely initiatory, and not within itself a practical 
measure, it is recommended in the hope that it would soon 
lead to important practical results. In full view of my great 
responsibility to my God, and to my country, I earnestly beg 
the attention of Congress and the people to the subject. 

Letter to General George B. McClellan, now embarked on his 
campaign to take Richmond by way of the peninsula between the 
York and James rivers. 

9th April 1862. 

My dear Sir: Your dispatches complaining that you are not 
properly sustained, while they do not offend me, do pain me very 

Blencker's Division was withdrawn from you before you left 
here; and you knew the pressure under which I did it, and, as I 
thought, acquiesced in it — certainly not without reluctance. 

After you left, I ascertained that less than twenty thousand 


unorganized men, without a single field battery, were all you 
designed to be left for the defence of Washington and Manassas 
Junction ; and part of this even, was to go to Gen. Hooker's old 
position. Gen. Banks's corps, once designed for Manassas 
Junction, was diverted, and tied up on the line of Winchester and 
Strasburg, and could not leave it without again exposing the 
upper Potomac, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. This 
presented (or would present, when McDowell and Sumner 
should be gone) a great temptation to the enemy to turn back 
from the Rappahannock, and sack Washington. My explicit 
order that Washington should, by the judgment of all the 
commanders of army corps, be left entirely secure, had 
been neglected. It was precisely this that drove me to detain 

I do not forget that I was satisfied with your arrangement to 
leave Banks at Manassas Junction; but when that arrangement 
was broken up and nothing was substituted for it, of course I was 
not satisfied. I was constrained to substitute something for it 
myself. And now allow me to ask : ' Do you really think I should 
permit the line from Richmond, via Manassas Junction, to this 
city to be entirely open, except what resistance could be presented 
by less than twenty thousand unorganized troops?' This is a 
question which the country will not allow me to evade. 

There is a curious mystery about the number of the troops now 
with you. When I telegraphed you on the 6th saying you had 
over a hundred thousand with you, I had just obtained from the 
Secretary of War a statement, taken as he said, from your own 
returns, making 108,000 then with you, and en route to you. 
You now say you will have but 85,000, when all en route to you 
shall have reached you. How can the discrepancy of 23,000 be 
accounted for? 

As to Gen. Wool's command, I understand it is doing for you 
precisely what a like number of your own would have to do, if 
that command was away. 

I suppose the whole force which has gone forward for you is 
with you by this time; and if so, I think it is the precise time for 
you to strike a blow. By delay the enemy will relatively gain 
upon you — that is, he will gain faster, by fortifications and 
reinforcements, than you can by reinforcements alone. 

And, once more let me tell you, it is indispensable to you that 


you strike a blow. / am powerless to help this. You will do 
me the justice to remember I always insisted, that going down the 
Bay in search of a field, instead of fighting at or near Manassas, 
was only shifting, and not surmounting, a difficulty — that we 
would find the same enemy, and the same, or equal, intrench- 
ments, at either place. The country will not fail to note — is now 
noting — that the present hesitation to move upon an intrenched 
enemy, is but the story of Manassas repeated. 

I beg to assure you that I have never written you, or spoken to 
you, in greater kindness of feeling than now, nor with a fuller 
purpose to sustain you, so far as in my most anxious judgment, I 
consistently can. But you must act. Yours very truly 

Letter to General George B. McClellan. 

Fort Monroe, Virginia, 9th May 1862. 

My dear Sir: I have just assisted the Secretary of War in 
framing the part of a dispatch to you, relating to army corps, 
which dispatch of course will have reached you long before this 
will. I wish to say a few words to you privately on this subject. 
I ordered the army corps organization not only on the unanimous 
opinion of the twelve generals whom you had selected and 
assigned as Generals of Division, but also on the unanimous 
opinion of every military man I could get an opinion from, and 
every modern military book, yourself only excepted. Of course, 
I did not, on my own judgment, pretend to understand the 
subject. I now think it indispensable for you to know how 
your struggle against it is received in quarters which we cannot 
entirely disregard. It is looked upon as merely an effort to 
pamper one or two pets, and to persecute and degrade their 
supposed rivals. I have had no word from Sumner, Heintzel- 
man, or Keyes. The commanders of these corps are of course 
the three highest officers with you, but I am constantly told that 
you have no consultation or communication with them; that you 
consult and communicate with nobody but General Fitz John 
Porter, and perhaps General Franklin. I do not say these 
complaints are true or just; but at all events it is proper you 
should know of their existence. Do the commanders of corps 
disobey your orders in anything? 


When you relieved General Hamilton of his command the 
other day, you thereby lost the confidence of at least one of your 
best friends in the Senate. And here let me say, not as applicable 
to you personally, that Senators and Representatives speak of me 
in their places as they please, without question; and that officers 
of the army must cease addressing insulting letters to them for 
taking no greater liberty with them. 

But, to return, are you strong enough — are you strong enough, 
even with my help — to set your foot upon the necks of Sumner, 
Heintzelman, and Keyes all at once? This is a practical and very 
serious question for you. 

The success of your army and the cause of the country are the 
same; and of course I only desire the good of the cause. Yours 

Letter to Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War. 

5th June 1862. 

My dear Sir: Herewith I return you the papers in relation to 
the proposed reappointment of William Kellogg, Jr., to a cadet- 
ship. Upon Gen. Totten's statement of the case I think it is 
natural that he should feel as he expresses himself. And yet 
the case comes upon me in the very strongest way to be painful 
to me. Hon. William Kellogg, the father, is not only a member 
of Congress from my state, but he is my personal friend of more 
than twenty years' standing, and of whom I had many personal 
kindnesses. This matter touches him very deeply — the feelings 
of a father for a child — as he thinks, all the future of his child. 
I cannot be the instrument to crush his heart. According to 
strict rule he has the right to make the renomination. Let the 
appointment be made. It needs not to become a precedent. 
Hereafter let no resignation be accepted under demerit amounting 
to cause for dismissal, unless upon express stipulation in writing 
that the cadet resigning shall not be renominated. In this I 
mean no censure upon Gen. Totten; and although I have marked 
this note 'private' I am quite willing for him to see it. Yours 


Telegram to General John C. Fremont, commanding the Mountain 
Department in western Virginia. 

16th June 1862. 

Your dispatch of yesterday reminding me of a supposed 
understanding that I would furnish you a corps of thirty-five 
thousand men, and asking of me ' the fulfilment of this under- 
standing' is received. I am ready to come to a fair settlement of 
accounts with you on the fulfilment of understandings. 

Early in March last, when I assigned you to the command of 
the Mountain Department, I did tell you I would give you all the 
force I could, and that I hoped to make it reach thirty-five 
thousand. You, at the same time told me that, within a reason- 
able time, you would seize the railroad at, or east of, Knoxville, 
Tennessee, if you could. There was then in the Department a 
force supposed to be twenty-five thousand — the exact number as 
well known to you as to me. After looking about two or three 
days you called and distinctly told me that if I would add the 
Blenker division to the force already in the Department, you 
would undertake the job. The Blenker division contained ten 
thousand; and at the expense of great dissatisfaction to Gen. 
McClellan, I took it from his army, and gave it to you. My 
promise was literally fulfilled. I had given you all I could, and 
I had given you very nearly if not quite thirty-five thousand. 

Now for yours. On the 23rd of May, largely over two months 
afterwards, you were at Franklin, Virginia, not within three 
hundred miles of Knoxville, nor within eighty miles of any part 
of the railroad east of it — and not moving forward, but tele- 
graphing here that you could not move for lack of everything. 
Now, do not misunderstand me. I do not say you have not done 
all you could. I presume you met unexpected difficulties; and I 
beg you to believe that as surely as you have done your best, so 
have I. I have not the power now to fill up your corps to thirty- 
five thousand. I am not demanding of you to do the work of 
thirty-five thousand. I am only asking of you to stand cautiously 
on the defensive, get your force in order, and give such protection 
as you can to the valley of the Shenandoah, and to Western 
Virginia. Have you received the orders? and will you act upon 


Telegram to General George B. McClellan, now engaged in the 
Seven Days Battles before Richmond. 

26th June 1862. 

Your three dispatches of yesterday in relation to the affair, 
ending with the statement that you completely succeeded in 
making your point, are very gratifying. The later one of 6.15 
p.m., suggesting the probability of your being overwhelmed by 
200,000, and talking of where the responsibility will belong, pains 
me very much. I give you all I can, and act on the presumption 
that you will do the best you can with what you have, while you 
continue, ungenerously I think, to assume that I could give you 
more if I would. I have omitted and shall omit no opportunity 
to send you reinforcements whenever I possibly can. 

Letter to Quintin Campbell, who had just entered West Point. 

28th June 1862. 

My dear Sir: Your good mother tells me you are feeling very 
badly in your new situation. Allow me to assure you it is a 
perfect certainty that you will, very soon, feel better — quite 
happy — if you only stick to the resolution you have taken to 
procure a military education. I am older than you, have felt 
badly myself, and know what I tell you is true. Adhere to your 
purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the 
contrary, if you falter and give up, you will lose the power of 
keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life. Take the 
advice of a friend, who, though he never saw you, deeply sym- 
pathizes with you, and stick to your purpose. Sincerely your 

Telegram to General George B. McClellan, whose army was taking 
heavy casualties in the Seven Days Battles. 

28th June 1862. 

Save your army at all events. Will send reinforcements as fast 
as we can. Of course they cannot reach you to-day, to-morrow, 
or next day. I have not said you were ungenerous for saying 
you needed reinforcement. I thought you were ungenerous in 

200 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

assuming that I did not send them as fast as I could. I feel any 
misfortune to you and your army quite as keenly as you feel it 
yourself. If you have had a drawn battle, or a repulse, it is the 
price we pay for the enemy not being in Washington. We 
protected Washington, and the enemy concentrated on you; 
had we stripped Washington, he would have been upon us before 
the troops sent could have got to you. Less than a week ago 
you notified us that reinforcements were leaving Richmond to 
come in front of us. It is the nature of the case, and neither you 
or the government that is to blame. Please tell at once the 
present condition and aspect of things. 

P.S. Gen. Pope thinks if you fall back it would be much better 
towards York River, than towards the James. As Pope now 
has charge of the Capital, please confer with him through the 

Telegram to General B. McClelland, at the end of the Seven Days 

2nd July 1862. 

Your dispatch of Tuesday morning induces me to hope your 
army is having some rest. In this hope, allow me to reason with 
you a moment. When you ask for fifty thousand men to be 
promptly sent you, you surely labour under some gross mistake 
of fact. Recently you sent papers showing your disposal of 
forces, made last spring, for the defence of Washington, and 
advising a return to that plan. I find it included in and about 
Washington seventy-five thousand men. Now please be assured, 
I have not men enough to fill that very plan by fifteen thousand. 
All of Fremont in the valley, all of Banks, all of McDowell, not 
with you, and all in Washington, taken together do not exceed, 
if they reach sixty thousand. With Wool and Dix added to those 
mentioned, I have not, outside of your army, seventy-five 
thousand men east of the mountains. Thus, the idea of sending 
you fifty thousand, or any other considerable force promptly, is 
simply absurd. If in your frequent mention of responsibility, 
you have the impression that I blame you for not doing more 
than you can, please be relieved of such impression. I only beg 
that in like manner, you will not ask impossibilities of me. If 
you think you are not strong enough to take Richmond just now, 


I do not ask you to try just now. Save the army, material and 
personal; and I will strengthen it for the offensive again as fast 
as I can. The governors of eighteen states offer me a new levy 
of three hundred thousand, which I accept. 

Telegram to General George B. McClellan. 

4th July 1862. 

I understand your position as stated in your letter, and by Gen. 
Marcy. To reinforce you so as to enable you to resume the 
offensive within a month, or even six weeks, is impossible. In 
addition to that arrived, and now arriving from the Potomac 
(about ten thousand, I suppose) and about ten thousand I hope 
you will have from Burnside very soon, and about five thousand 
from Hunter a little later, I do not see how I can send you another 
man within a month. Under these circumstances the defensive, 
for the present, must be your only care. Save the army — first, 
where you are, if you can; and secondly, by removal, if you must. 
You, on the ground, must be the judge as to which you will 
attempt, and of the means for effecting it. I but give it as 
opinion, that with the aid of the gunboats, and the reinforcements 
mentioned above, you can hold your present position, provided, 
and so long as, you can keep the James River open below you. 
If you are not tolerably confident you can keep the James River 
open, you had better remove as soon as possible. I do not 
remember that you have expressed any apprehension as to the 
danger of having your communication cut on the river below 
you; yet I do not suppose it can have escaped your attention. 
Yours very truly 

P.S. If, at any time, you feel able to take the offensive, you 
are not restrained from doing so. 

Telegram to General George B. McClellan. 

5th July 1862. 

A thousand thanks for the relief your two dispatches of 12 and 
1 p.m. yesterday give me. Be assured the heroism and skill of 
yourself, officers, and men, are, and forever will be appreciated. 
If you can hold your present position, we shall 'hive' the enemy 

202 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

To a delegation of Border State Congressmen. 

12th July 1862. 

Gentlemen: After the adjournment of Congress, now very 
near, I shall have no opportunity of seeing you for several 
months. Believing that you of the border states hold more power 
for good than any other equal number of members, I feel it a 
duty which I cannot justifiably waive, to make this appeal to you. 
I intend no reproach or complaint when I assure you that in my 
opinion if you all had voted for the resolution in the gradual 
emancipation message of last March, the war would now be 
substantially ended. And the plan therein proposed is yet one 
of the most potent and swift means of ending it. Let the states 
which are in rebellion see, definitely and certainly, that, in no 
event, will the states you represent ever join their proposed 
Confederacy, and they cannot much longer maintain the contest. 
But you cannot divest them of their hope to ultimately have you 
with them so long as you show a determination to perpetuate the 
institution within your own states. Beat them at elections, as 
you have overwhelmingly done, and, nothing daunted, they still 
claim you as their own. You and I know what the lever of 
their power is. Break that lever before their faces, and they can 
shake you no more forever. 

Most of you have treated me with kindness and consideration ; 
and I trust you will not now think I improperly touch what is 
exclusively your own, when, for the sake of the whole country I 
ask, * Can you, for your states, do better than to take the course 
I urge?' Discarding punctilio, and maxims adapted to more 
manageable times, and looking only to the unprecedentedly stern 
facts of our case, can you do better in any possible event? You 
prefer that the constitutional relation of the states to the nation 
shall be practically restored, without disturbance of the institu- 
tion; and if this were done, my whole duty, in this respect, under 
the Constitution, and my oath of office, would be performed. 
But it is not done, and we are trying to accomplish it by war. 
The incidents of the war cannot be avoided. If the war continue 
long, as it must, if the object be not sooner attained, the institu- 
tion in your states will be extinguished by mere friction and 
abrasion — by the mere incidents of the war. It will be gone, 
and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of it. Much of its 


value is gone already. How much better for you, and for your 
people, to take the step which, at once, shortens the war, and 
secures substantial compensation for that which is sure to be 
wholly lost in any other event. How much better to thus save 
the money which else we sink forever in the war. How much 
better to do it while we can, lest the war ere long render us 
pecuniarily unable to do it. How much better for you, as seller, 
and the nation as buyer, to sell out, and buy out, that without 
which the war could never have been, than to sink both the thing 
to be sold, and the price of it, in cutting one another's throats. 

I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at 
once to emancipate gradually. Room in South America for 
colonization can be obtained cheaply and in abundance; and 
when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encour- 
agement for one another, the freed people will not be so reluctant 
to go. 

I am pressed with a difficulty not yet mentioned — one which 
threatens division among those who, united, are none too strong. 
An instance of it is known to you. Gen. Hunter is an honest 
man. He was, and I hope, still is, my friend. I valued him 
none the less for his agreeing with me in the general wish that all 
men everywhere could be free. He proclaimed all men free 
within certain states, and I repudiated the proclamation. He 
expected more good, and less harm from the measure, than I 
could believe would follow. Yet in repudiating it, I gave dis- 
satisfaction, if not offence, to many whose support the country 
cannot afford to lose. And this is not the end of it. The pres- 
sure, in this direction, is still upon me, and is increasing. By 
conceding what I now ask, you can relieve me, and much more, 
can relieve the country, in this important point. Upon these 
considerations I have again begged your attention to the message 
of March last. Before leaving the Capital, consider and discuss 
it among yourselves. You are patriots and statesmen; and, as 
such, I pray you, consider this proposition; and, at the least, 
commend it to the consideration of your states and people. As 
you would perpetuate popular government for the best people in 
the world, I beseech you that you do in no wise omit this. Our 
common country is in great peril, demanding the loftiest views, 
and boldest action to bring it speedy relief. Once relieved, its 
form of government is saved to the world; its beloved history, 


and cherished memories, are vindicated; and its happy future 
fully assured, and rendered inconceivably grand. To you, more 
than to any others, the privilege is given, to assure that happiness, 
and swell that grandeur, and to link your own names therewith 

Letter to Reverdy Johnson, who had reported on conditions in New 
Orleans under the Union occupation. 

26th July 1862. 

My dear Sir: Yours of the 16th by the hand of Governor 
Shepley is received. It seems the Union feeling in Louisiana is 
being crushed out by the course of General Phelps. Please 
pardon me for believing that is a false pretence. The people of 
Louisiana — all intelligent people everywhere — know full well 
that I never had a wish to touch the foundations of their society, 
or any right of theirs. With perfect knowledge of this, they 
forced a necessity upon me to send armies among them, and it is 
their own fault, not mine, that they are annoyed by the presence 
of General Phelps. They also know the remedy — know how 
to be cured of General Phelps. Remove the necessity of his 
presence. And might it not be well for them to consider whether 
they have not already had time enough to do this? If they can 
conceive of anything worse than General Phelps, within my 
power, would they not better be looking out for it? They very 
well know the way to avert all this is simply to take their place in 
the Union upon the old terms. If they will not do this, should 
they not receive harder blows rather than lighter ones? 

You are ready to say I apply to friends what is due only to 
enemies. I distrust the wisdom if not the sincerity of friends, who 
would hold my hands while my enemies stab me. This appeal 
of professed friends has paralysed me more in this struggle than 
any other one thing. You remember telling me the day after 
the Baltimore mob in April 1861, that it would crush all Union 
feeling in Maryland for me to attempt bringing troops over 
Maryland soil to Washington. I brought the troops notwith- 
standing, and yet there was Union feeling enough left to elect a 
legislature the next autumn which in turn elected a very excellent 
Union U.S. Senator! 

I am a patient man — always willing to forgive on the Christian 


terms of repentance ; and also to give ample time for repentance. 
Still I must save this government if possible. What I cannot do, 
of course I will not do ; but it may as well be understood, once 
for all, that I shall not surrender this game leaving any available 
card unplayed. Yours truly 

Letter to Cuthbert Bullitt, a New Orleans loyalist. 

28th July 1862. 

Sir: The copy of a letter addressed to yourself by Mr Thomas J. 
Durant, has been shown to me. The writer appears to be an 
able, a dispassionate, and an entirely sincere man. 1 The first 
part of the letter is devoted to an effort to show that the Secession 
Ordinance of Louisiana was adopted against the will of a majority 
of the people. This is probably true; and in that fact may be 
found some instruction. Why did they allow the Ordinance to 
go into effect? Why did they not assert themselves? Why 
stand passive and allow themselves to be trodden down by a 
minority? Why did they not hold popular meetings, and have a 
convention of their own, to express and enforce the true sentiment 
of the state? If pre-organization was against them then, why 
not do this now, that the United States Army is present to protect 
them? The paralysis — the dead palsy — of the government in 
this whole struggle is, that this class of men will do nothing for 
the government, nothing for themselves, except demanding that 
the government shall not strike its open enemies, lest they be 
struck by accident! 

Mr Durant complains that in various ways the relation of 

master and slave is disturbed by the presence of our army; and 

he considers it particularly vexatious that this, in part, is done 

under cover of an act of Congress, while constitutional guarantees 

are suspended on the plea of military necessity. The truth is, 

that what is done and omitted about slaves, is done and omitted 

on the same military necessity. It is a military necessity to have 

men and money ; and we can get neither in sufficient numbers, or 

amounts, if we keep from, or drive from, our lines, slaves coming 

to them. Mr Durant cannot be ignorant of the pressure in this 

1 Durant was a New Orleans lawyer who had remained loyal to the 
Union. At the time of this letter he was the acknowledged leader of a 
movement to organize Louisiana as a free state. 


direction ; nor of my efforts to hold it within bounds till he, and 
such as he shall have time to help themselves. 

I am not posted to speak understandingly on all the police 
regulations of which Mr Durant complains. If experience shows 
any one of them to be wrong, let them be set right. I think I can 
perceive, in the freedom of trade, which Mr Durant urges, that 
he would relieve both friends and enemies from the pressure of 
the blockade. By this he would serve the enemy more effectively 
than the enemy is able to serve himself. I do not say or believe 
that to serve the enemy is the purpose of Mr Durant; or that he 
is conscious of any purpose, other than national and patriotic 
ones. Still, if there were a class of men who, having no choice 
of sides in the contest, were anxious only to have quiet and com- 
fort for themselves while it rages, and to fall in with the victorious 
side at the end of it, without loss to themselves, their advice as to 
the mode of conducting the contest would be precisely such as 
his is. He speaks of no duty — apparently thinks of none — 
resting upon Union men. He even thinks it injurious to the 
Union cause that they should be restrained in trade and passage 
without taking sides. They are to touch neither a sail nor a 
pump, but to be merely passengers — dead-heads at that — to be 
carried snug and dry, throughout the storm, and safely landed 
right side up. Nay, more; even a mutineer is to go untouched 
lest these sacred passengers receive an accidental wound. 

Of course the rebellion will never be suppressed in Louisiana, 
if the professed Union men there will neither help to do it, nor 
permit the government to do it without their help. 

Now, I think the true remedy is very different from what is 
suggested by Mr Durant. It does not lie in rounding the rough 
angles of the war, but in removing the necessity for the war. 
The people of Louisiana who wish protection to person and 
property, have but to reach forth their hands and take it. Let 
them, in good faith, reinaugurate the national authority, and set 
up a state government conforming thereto under the Constitu- 
tion. They know how to do it, and can have the protection of 
the army while doing it. The army will be withdrawn so soon 
as such state government can dispense with its presence; and the 
people of the state can then upon the old constitutional terms, 
govern themselves to their own liking. This is very simple and 


If they will not do this, if they prefer to hazard all for the sake 
of destroying the government, it is for them to consider whether 
it is probable I will surrender the government to save them from 
losing all. If they decline what I suggest, you scarcely need to 
ask what I will do. What would you do in my position ? Would 
you drop the war where it is? Or, would you prosecute it in 
future, with elder-stalk squirts, charged with rose-water? Would 
you deal lighter blows rather than heavier ones? Would you 
give up the contest, leaving any available means unapplied? 

I am in no boastful mood. I shall not do more than I can, 
and I shall do all I can to save the government, which is my sworn 
duty as well as my personal inclination. I shall do nothing in 
malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing. 
Yours truly 

Letter to Horace Greeley, editor of the ' New York Tribune.'' 

22nd August 1862. 

Dear Sir: I have just read yours of the 19th addressed to 
myself through the New York Tribune. If there be in it any 
statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be 
erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there 
be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, 
I do not now and here argue against them. If there be percep- 
tible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference 
to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right. 

As to the policy I 'seem to be pursuing' as you say, I have not 
meant to leave anyone in doubt. 

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under 
the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be 
restored, the nearer the Union will be 'the Union as it was.' If 
there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could 
at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If 
there be those who would not save the Union unless they could 
at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My 
paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not 
either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union 
without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by 
freeing all the slaves I would do it ; and if I could save it by freeing 


some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do 
about slavery, and the coloured race, I do because I believe it 
helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because 
I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less 
whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I 
shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the 
cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; 
and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be 
true views. 

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official 
duty ; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal 
wish that all men everywhere could be free. Yours 

Meditation on the Divine Will. 

[2nd September 1862?] 

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims 
to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and 
one must be wrong. God cannot be for, and against the same 
thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite 
possible that God's purpose is something different from the 
purpose of either party — and yet the human instrumentalities, 
working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His 
purpose. I am almost ready to say this is probably true — that 
God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his 
mere quiet power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could 
have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human 
contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun He could 
give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest 

First Proclamation of Emancipation. 

22nd September 1862. 

By the President of the 

United States of America 

A Proclamation 

I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, 
and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do 


hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the 
war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the 
constitutional relation between the United States, and each of 
the states, and the people thereof, in which states that relation is, 
or may be suspended, or disturbed. 

That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress to 
again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering 
pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all slave- 
states, so-called, the people whereof may not then be in re- 
bellion against the United States, and which states may then 
have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, 
immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their res- 
pective limits ; and that the effort to colonize persons of African 
descent, with their consent, upon this continent, or elsewhere, 
with the previously obtained consent of the governments existing 
there, will be continued. 

That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one 
thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves 
within any state, or designated part of a state, the people whereof 
shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, 
thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government 
of the United States, including the military and naval authority 
thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such 
persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, 
or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual 

That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, 
by proclamation, designate the states, and parts of states, if any, 
in which the people thereof respectively, shall then be in rebellion 
against the United States; and the fact that any state, or the 
people thereof shall, on that day be, in good faith represented in 
the Congress of the United States, by members chosen thereto, 
at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such 
state shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong 
countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that 
such state and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against 
the United States. 

That attention is hereby called to an act of Congress entitled 
'An act to make an additional Article of War,' approved 13th 
March 1862, and which act is in the words and figure following: 

H2 o6 


'Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter 
the following shall be promulgated as an additional article of war 
for the government of the army of the United States, and shall be 
obeyed and observed as such : 

'Article — . All officers or persons in the military or naval 
service of the United States are prohibited from employing any 
of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose 
of returning fugitives from service or labour, who may have 
escaped from any persons to whom such service or labour is 
claimed to be due, and any officer who shall be found guilty by 
a court-martial of violating this article shall be dismissed from 
the service. 

'Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take 
effect from and after its passage.' 

Also to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled ' An Act 
to suppress Insurrection, to punish Treason and Rebellion, to 
seize and confiscate property of rebels, and for other purposes,' 
approved 17th July 1862, and which sections are in the words 
and figures following: 

'Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons 
who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the govern- 
ment of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or 
comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge 
within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such 
persons or deserted by them and coming under the control of the 
government of the United States ; and all slaves of such persons 
found on (or) being within any place occupied by rebel forces and 
afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be 
deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude 
and not again held as slaves. 

'Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That no slave escaping into 
any state, territory, or the District of Columbia, from any other 
state, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hindered 
of his liberty, except for crime, or some offence against the laws, 
unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that 
the person to whom the labour or service of such fugitive is 
alleged to be due is his lawful owner, and has not borne arms 
against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way 


given aid and comfort thereto; and no person engaged in the 
military or naval service of the United States shall, under any 
pretence whatever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim 
of any person to the service or labour of any other person, or 
surrender up any such person to the claimant, on pain of being 
dismissed from the service.' 

And I do hereby enjoin upon and order all persons engaged in 
the military and naval service of the United States to observe, 
obey,, and enforce, within their respective spheres of service, the 
act, and sections above recited. 

And the executive will in due time recommend that all citizens 
of the United States who shall have remained loyal thereto 
throughout the rebellion, shall (upon the restoration of the 
constitutional relation between the United States, and their 
respective states, and people, if that relation shall have been 
suspended or disturbed) be compensated for all losses by acts of 
the United States, including the loss of slaves. 

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and 
caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. 

Done at the City of Washington, this twenty second 
day of September, in the year of our Lord, one thousand 
eight hundred and sixty two, and of the Independence 
of the United States, the eighty seventh. 

By the President: Abraham Lincoln. 

William H. Seward, Secretary of State. 

Letter to General George B. McClellan, nearly a month after he 
had repulsed Lee at Antietam. 

13th October 1862. 

My dear Sir: You remember my speaking to you of what I 
called your over-cautiousness. Are you not over-cautious when 
you assume that you cannot do what the enemy is constantly 
doing? Should you not claim to be at least his equal in prowess, 
and act upon the claim? 

As I understand, you telegraph Gen. Halleck that you cannot 
subsist your army at Winchester unless the railroad from 
Harper's Ferry to that point be put in working order. But the 


enemy does now subsist his army at Winchester at a distance 
nearly twice as great from railroad transportation as you would 
have to do without the railroad last named. He now wagons 
from Culpeper C.H. which is just about twice as far as you 
would have to do from Harper's Ferry. He is certainly not 
more than half as well provided with wagons as you are. I 
certainly should be pleased for you to have the advantage of 
the railroad from Harper's Ferry to Winchester, but it wastes 
all the remainder of autumn to give it to you; and, in fact 
ignores the question of time, which cannot, and must not be 

Again, one of the standard maxims of war, as you know, is 
'to operate upon the enemy's communications as much as 
possible without exposing your own.' You seem to act as if this 
applies against you, but cannot apply in your favour. Change 
positions with the enemy, and think you not he would break 
your communication with Richmond within the next twenty- 
four hours? You dread his going into Pennsylvania. But if he 
does so in full force, he gives up his communications to you 
absolutely, and you have nothing to do but to follow, and ruin 
him; if he does so with less than full force, fall upon, and beat 
what is left behind all the easier. 

Exclusive of the water-line, you are now nearer Richmond 
than the enemy is by the route that you can, and he must take. 
Why can you not reach there before him, unless you admit that 
he is more than your equal on a march. His route is the arc of 
a circle, while yours is the chord. The roads are as good on 
yours as on his. 

You know I desired, but did not order, you to cross the Poto- 
mac below, instead of above the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge. 
My idea was that this would at once menace the enemy's com- 
munications, which I would seize if he would permit. If he 
should move northward I would follow him closely, holding his 
communications. If he should prevent our seizing his com- 
munications and move towards Richmond, I would press closely 
to him, fight him if a favourable opportunity should present, 
and, at least, try to beat him to Richmond on the inside track. I 
say 'try'; if we never try, we shall never succeed. If he make a 
stand at Winchester, moving neither north or south, I would 
fight him there, on the idea that if we cannot beat him when he 


bears the wastage of coming to us, we never can when we bear 
the wastage of going to him. This proposition is a simple truth, 
and is too important to be lost sight of for a moment. In 
coming to us, he tenders us an advantage which we should not 
waive. We should not so operate as to merely drive him away. 
As we must beat him somewhere, or fail finally, we can do it, if 
at all, easier near to us, than far away. If we cannot beat the 
enemy where he now is, we never can, he again being within the 
entrenchments of Richmond. 

Recurring to the idea of going to Richmond on the inside 
track, the facility of supplying from the side away from the 
enemy is remarkable — as it were, by the different spokes of a 
wheel extending from the hub towards the rim — and this whether 
you move directly by the chord, or on the inside arc, hugging the 
Blue Ridge more closely. The chord-line, as you see, carries 
you by Aldie, Hay-Market, and Fredericksburg; and you see 
how turnpikes, railroads, and finally, the Potomac by Acquia 
Creek, meet you at all points from Washington. The same, 
only the lines lengthened a little, if you press closer to the Blue 
Ridge part of the way. The gaps through the Blue Ridge I 
understand to be about the following distances from Harper's 
Ferry, to wit: Vestal's five miles; Gregorie's, thirteen, Snicker's 
eighteen, Ashby's, twenty-eight, Manassas, thirty-eight, Chester, 
forty-five, and Thornton's fifty-three. I should think it pre- 
ferable to take the route nearest the enemy, disabling him to 
make an important move without your knowledge, and com- 
pelling him to keep his forces together, for dread of you. The 
gaps would enable you to attack if you should wish. For a 
great part of the way you would be practically between the enemy 
and both Washington and Richmond, enabling us to spare you 
the greatest number of troops from here. When at length, run- 
ning for Richmond ahead of him enables him to move this way; 
if he does so, turn and attack him in rear. But I think he should 
be engaged long before such point is reached. It is all easy if 
our troops march as well as the enemy; and it is unmanly to say 
they cannot do it. 

This letter is in no sense an order. Yours truly 


Telegram to General George B. McClellan. 

24th October 1862. 

I have just read your dispatch about sore-tongued and fatigued 
horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your 
army have done since the Battle of Antietam that fatigue anything? 

Telegram to General George B. McClellan. 

27th October 1862. 

Yours of yesterday received. Most certainly I intend no 
injustice to any ; and if I have done any, I deeply regret it. To 
be told after more than five weeks total inaction of the army, and 
during which period we had sent to that army every fresh horse 
we possibly could, amounting in the whole to 7,918 that the 
cavalry horses were too much fatigued to move, presented a very 
cheerless, almost hopeless, prospect for the future; and it may 
have forced something of impatience into my dispatches. If 
not recruited, and rested then, when could they ever be? I 
suppose the river is rising, and I am glad to believe you are 
crossing. 1 

Letter to Samuel Treat, a federal judge at St Louis. 

19th November 1862. 

My dear Sir: Your very patriotic and judicious letter, addressed 
to Judge Davis, in relation to the Mississippi, has been left with 
me by him for perusal. You do not estimate the value of the 
object you press, more highly than it is estimated here. It is 
now the object of particular attention. It has not been neglected, 
as you seem to think, because the West was divided into different 
military departments. The cause is much deeper. The country 
will not allow us to send our whole western force down the 
Mississippi, while the enemy sacks Louisville and Cincinnati. 
Possibly it would be better if the country would allow this, but 
it will not. I confidently believed, last September, that we could 
end the war by allowing the enemy to go to Harrisburg and 

1 On 5th November 1862 Lincoln relieved McClellan of command of the 
Army of the Potomac, replacing him with General Ambrose E. Burnside. 


Philadelphia, only that we could not keep down mutiny, and 
utter demoralization among the Pennsylvanians. And this, 
though very unhandy sometimes, is not at all strange. I presume 
if an army was starting to-day for New Orleans, and you con- 
fidently believed that St Louis would be sacked in consequence, 
you would be in favour of stopping such army. 

We are compelled to watch all these things. With great respect 
Your Obt. Servt. 

Letter to Brigadier General Carl Schurz, in civil life a leader of the 
German- American wing of the Republican party. 

24th November 1862. 

My dear Sir: I have just received, and read, your letter of the 
20th. The purport of it is that we lost the late elections, and the 
administration is failing, because the war is unsuccessful; and 
that I must not flatter myself that I am not justly to blame for it. 
I certainly know that if the war fails, the administration fails, and 
that I will be blamed for it, whether I deserve it or not. And I 
ought to be blamed, if I could do better. You think I could do 
better; therefore you blame me already. I think I could not do 
better; therefore I blame you for blaming me. I understand you 
now to be willing to accept the help of men, who are not Repub- 
licans, provided they have 'heart in it.' Agreed. I want no 
others. But who is to be the judge of hearts, or of 'heart in it'? 
If I must discard my own judgment, and take yours, I must also 
take that of others ; and by the time I should reject all I should be 
advised to reject, I should have none left, Republicans, or others 
— not even yourself. For, be assured, my dear sir, there are men 
who have 'heart in it' that think you are performing your part 
as poorly as you think I am performing mine. I certainly have 
been dissatisfied with the slowness of Buell and McClellan; but 
before I relieved them I had great fears I should not find suc- 
cessors to them, who would do better; and I am sorry to add, 
that I have seen little since to relieve those fears. I do not clearly 
see the prospect of any more rapid movements. I fear we shall 
at last find out that the difficulty is in our case, rather than in 
particular generals. I wish to disparage no one — certainly not 
those who sympathize with me; but I must say I need success 

216 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

more than I need sympathy, and that I have not seen the so 
much greater evidence of getting success from my sympathizers, 
than from those who are denounced as the contrary. It does 
seem to me that in the field the two classes have been very much 
alike, in what they have done, and what they have failed to do. 
In sealing their faith with their blood, Baker, and Lyon, and 
Bohlen, and Richardson, Republicans, did all that men could 
do; but did they any more than Kearney, and Stevens, and Reno, 
and Mansfield, none of whom were Republicans, and some at 
least of whom have been bitterly, and repeatedly, denounced to 
me as secession sympathizers? I will not perform the ungrateful 
task of comparing cases of failure. 

In answer to your question 'Has it not been publicly stated in 
the newspapers, and apparently proved as a fact, that from the 
commencement of the war the enemy was continually supplied 
with information by some of the confidential subordinates of as 
important an officer as Adjutant General Thomas?' I must 
say 'no' so far as my knowledge extends. And I add that if you 
can give any tangible evidence upon that subject, I will thank you 
to come to the City and do so. Very truly Your friend 

From the Annual Message to Congress. 

1st December 1862. 

. . . On the twenty-second day of September last a proclama- 
tion was issued by the Executive, a copy of which is herewith 

In accordance with the purpose expressed in the second 
paragraph of that paper, I now respectfully recall your attention 
to what may be called 'compensated emancipation.' 

A nation may be said to consist of its territory, its people, and 
its laws. The territory is the only part which is of certain dura- 
bility. 'One generation passeth away, and another generation 
cometh, but the earth abideth forever.' It is of the first impor- 
tance to duly consider, and estimate, this ever-enduring part. 
That portion of the earth's surface which is owned and inhabited 
by the people of the United States, is well adapted to be the home 
of one national family; and it is not well adapted for two, or 
more. Its vast extent, and its variety of climate and productions, 
are of advantage, in this age, for one people, whatever they might 


have been in former ages. Steam, telegraphs, and intelligence, 
have brought these to be an advantageous combination for one 
united people. . . . 

There is no line, straight or crooked, suitable for a national 
boundary, upon which to divide. Trace through, from east to 
west, upon the line between the free and slave country, and we 
shall find a little more than one-third of its length are rivers, easy 
to be crossed, and populated, or soon to be populated, thickly 
upon both sides ; while nearly all its remaining length, are merely 
surveyors' lines, over which people may walk back and forth 
without any consciousness of their presence. No part of this 
line can be made any more difficult to pass, by writing it down 
on paper, or parchment, as a national boundary. The fact of 
separation, if it comes, gives up, on the part of the seceding 
section, the fugitive slave clause, along with all other constitu- 
tional obligations upon the section seceded from, while I should 
expect no treaty stipulation would ever be made to take its place. 

But there is another difficulty. The great interior region, 
'bounded east by the Alleghanies, north by the British dominions, 
west by the Rocky Mountains, and south by the line along which 
the culture of corn and cotton meets, and which includes part of 
Virginia, part of Tennessee, all of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, 
Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Minne- 
sota, and the Territories of Dakota, Nebraska, and part of 
Colorado, already has above ten millions of people, and will have 
fifty millions within fifty years, if not prevented by any political 
folly or mistake. It contains more than one-third of the country 
owned by the United States — certainly more than one million of 
square miles. Once half as populous as Massachusetts already 
is, it would have more than seventy-five millions of people. A 
glance at the map shows that, territorially speaking, it is the great 
body of the republic. The other parts are but marginal borders 
to it, the magnificent region sloping west from the Rocky Moun- 
tains to the Pacific, being the deepest, and also the richest, in 
undeveloped resources. In the production of provisions, grains, 
grasses, and all which proceed from them, this great interior 
region is naturally one of the most important in the world. 
Ascertain from the statistics the small proportion of the region 
which has, as yet, been brought into cultivation, and also the 
large and rapidly increasing amount of its products, and we shall 

* H 2o6 


be overwhelmed with the magnitude of the prospect presented. 
And yet this region has no sea-coast, touches no ocean anywhere. 
As part of one nation, its people now find and may forever find, 
their way to Europe by New York, to South America and Africa 
by New Orleans, and to Asia by San Francisco. But separate 
our common country into two nations, as designed by the present 
rebellion, and every man of this great interior region is thereby 
cut off from some one or more of these outlets, not, perhaps, 
by a physical barrier, but by embarrassing and onerous trade 

And this is true, wherever a dividing, or boundary line, may be 
fixed. Place it between the now free and slave country, or place 
it south of Kentucky, or north of Ohio, and still the truth remains, 
that none south ofit can trade to any port or place north of it, 
and none north of it can trade to any port or place south of 
it, except upon terms dictated by a government foreign to them. 
These outlets, east, west, and south, are indispensable to the well- 
being of the people inhabiting, and to inhabit, this vast interior 
region. Which of the three may be the best, is no proper' 
question. All are better than either, and all, of right, belong to 
that people, and to their successors forever. True to themselves, 
they will not ask where a line of separation shall be, but will vow, 
rather, that there shall be no such line. Nor are the marginal 
regions less interested in these communications to, and through 
them, to the great outside world. They too, and each of them, 
must have access to this Egypt of the West, without paying toll at 
the crossing of any national boundary. 

Our national strife springs not from our permanent part; not 
from the land we inhabit; not from our national homestead. 
There is no possible severing of this, but would multiply, and not 
mitigate, evils among us. In all its adaptations and aptitudes, 
it demands union, and abhors separation. In fact, it would, ere 
long, force reunion, however much of blood and treasure the 
separation might have cost. 

Our strife pertains to ourselves — to the passing generations of 
men; and it can, without convulsion, be hushed forever with the 
passing of one generation. 

In this view, I recommend the adoption of the following 
resolution and articles amendatory to the Constitution of the 
United States: 


'Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of 
both houses concurring), That the following articles be proposed 
to the legislatures (or conventions) of the several states as 
amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any 
of which articles when ratified by three-fourths of the said legis- 
latures (or conventions) to be valid as part or parts of the said 
Constitution, viz: 

* Article 

'Every state, wherein slavery now exists, which shall abolish 
the same therein, at any time, or times, before the first day of 
January, in the year of our Lord one thousand and nine hundred, 
shall receive compensation from the United States as follows, 
to wit: 

'The President of the United States shall deliver to every such 
state, bonds of the United States, bearing interest at the rate of 

per cent, per annum, to an amount equal to the aggregate 

sum of for each slave shown to have been therein, by the 

eighth census of the United States, said bonds to be delivered to 
such state by instalments, or in one parcel, at the completion of 
the abolishment, accordingly as the same shall have been gradual, 
or at one time, within such state; and interest shall begin to run 
upon any such bond, only from the proper time of its delivery as 
aforesaid. Any state having received bonds as aforesaid, and 
afterwards reintroducing or tolerating slavery therein, shall 
refund to the United States the bonds so received, or the value 
thereof, and all interest paid thereon. 

* Article 

'All slaves who shall have enjoyed actual freedom by the 
chances of the war, at any time before the end of the rebellion, 
shall be forever free; but all owners of such, who shall not have 
been disloyal, shall be compensated for them, at the same rates 
as is provided for states adopting abolishment of slavery, but in 
such way that no slave shall be twice accounted for. 

* Article 

' Congress may appropriate money, and otherwise provide, for 
colonizing free coloured persons, with their own consent, at any 
place or places without the United States.' 


I beg indulgence to discuss these proposed articles at some 
length. Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed ; 
without slavery it could not continue. 

Among the friends of the Union there is great diversity, of 
sentiment, and of policy, in regard to slavery, and the African 
race amongst us. Some would perpetuate slavery; some would 
abolish it suddenly, and without compensation; some would 
abolish it gradually, and with compensation ; some would remove 
the freed people from us, and some would retain them with us ; 
and there are yet other minor diversities. Because of these 
diversities, we waste much strength in struggles among ourselves. 
By mutual concession we should harmonize, and act together. 
This would be compromise ; but it would be compromise among 
the friends, and not with the enemies of the Union. These 
articles are intended to embody a plan of such mutual con- 
cessions. If the plan shall be adopted, it is assumed that 
emancipation will follow, at least in several of the states. 

As to the first article, the main points are : first, the emancipa- 
tion; secondly, the length of time for consummating it — thirty- 
seven years; and thirdly, the compensation. 

The emancipation will be unsatisfactory to the advocates of 
perpetual slavery ; but the length of time should greatly mitigate 
their dissatisfaction. The time spares both races from the evils 
of sudden derangement — in fact, from the necessity of any 
derangement — while most of those whose habitual course of 
thought will be disturbed by the measure will have passed away 
before its consummation. They will never see it. Another class 
will hail the prospect of emancipation, but will deprecate the 
length of time. They will feel that it gives too little to the now 
living slaves. But it really gives them much. It saves them 
from the vagrant destitution which must largely attend immediate 
emancipation in localities where their numbers are very great; 
and it gives the inspiring assurance that their posterity shall be 
free forever. The plan leaves to each state, choosing to act under 
it, to abolish slavery now, or at the end of the century, or at any 
intermediate time, or by degrees, extending over the whole or any 
part of the period; and it obliges no two states to proceed alike. 
It also provides for compensation, and generally the mode of 
making it. This, it would seem, must further mitigate the dis- 
satisfaction of those who favour perpetual slavery, and especially 


of those who are to receive the compensation. Doubtless some 
of those who are to pay and not to receive will object. Yet the 
measure is both just and economical. In a certain sense the 
liberation of slaves is the destruction of property — property 
acquired by descent, or by purchase, the same as any other 
property. It is no less true for having been often said, that the 
people of the South are not more responsible for the original 
introduction of this property, than are the people of the North; 
and when it is remembered how unhesitatingly we all use cotton 
and sugar, and share the profits of dealing in them, it may not be 
quite safe to say, that the South has been more responsible than 
the North for its continuance. If then, for a common object, 
this property is to be sacrificed is it not just that it be done at a 
common charge? 

And if, with less money, or money more easily paid, we can 
preserve the benefits of the Union by this means, than we can by 
the war alone, is it not also e:onomical to do it? Let us consider 
it then. Let us ascertain the sum we have expended in the war 
since compensated emancipation was proposed last March, and 
consider whether, if that measure had been promptly accepted, 
by even some of the slave states, the same sum would not have 
done more to close the war, than has been otherwise done. If 
so the measure would save money, and, in that view, would be a 
prudent and economical measure. Certainly it is not so easy to 
pay something as it is to pay nothing; but it is easier to pay a 
large sum than it is to pay a larger one. And it is easier to pay 
any sum when we are able, than it is to pay it before we are able. 
The war requires large sums, and requires them at once. The 
aggregate sum necessary for compensated emancipation, of 
course, would be large. But it would require no ready cash ; nor 
the bonds even, any faster than the emancipation progresses. 
This might not, and probably would not, close before the end of 
the thirty-seven years. At that time we shall probably have a 
hundred millions of people to share the burden, instead of 
thirty-one millions, as now. . . . 

The proposed emancipation would shorten the war, perpetuate 
peace, insure this increase of population, and proportionately the 
wealth of the country. With these, we should pay all the emanci- 
pation would cost, together with our other debt, easier than we 
should pay our other debt without it. If we had allowed our 


old national debt to run at 6 per cent per annum, simple interest, 
from the end of our revolutionary struggle until to-day, without 
paying anything on either principal or interest, each man of us 
would owe less upon that debt now, than each man owed upon 
it then ; and this because our increase of men, through the whole 
period, has been greater than 6 per cent; has run faster than the 
interest upon the debt. Thus, time alone relieves a debtor nation, 
so long as its population increases faster than unpaid interest 
accumulates on its debt. 

This fact would be no excuse for delaying payment of what is 
justly due; but it shows the great importance of time in this 
connection — the great advantage of a policy by which we shall 
not have to pay until we number a hundred millions, what, by a 
different policy, we would have to pay now, when we number but 
thirty-one millions. In a word, it shows that a dollar will be 
much harder to pay for the war than will be a dollar for eman- 
cipation on the proposed plan. And then the latter will cost no 
blood, no precious life. It will be a saving of both. 

As to the second article, I think it would be impracticable to 
return to bondage the class of persons therein contemplated. 
Some of them, doubtless, in the property sense, belong to 
loyal owners; and hence, provision is made in this article for 
compensating such. 

The third article relates to the future of the freed people. It 
does not oblige, but merely authorizes, Congress to aid in 
colonizing such as may consent. This ought not to be regarded 
as objectionable, on the one hand, or on the other, in so much 
as it comes to nothing, unless by the mutual consent of the 
people to be deported, and the American voters, through their 
representatives in Congress. 

I cannot make it better known than it already is, that I strongly 
favour colonization. And yet I wish to say there is an objection 
urged against free coloured persons remaining in the country, 
which is largely imaginary, if not sometimes malicious. 

It is insisted that their presence would injure and displace 
white labour and white labourers. If there ever could be a proper 
time for mere catch arguments, that time surely is not now. In 
times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they 
would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity. 
Is it true, then, that coloured people can displace any more white 


labour, by being free, than by remaining slaves? If they stay 
in their old places, they jostle no white labourers ; if they leave 
their old places, they leave them open to white labourers. Logi- 
cally, there is neither more nor less of it. Emancipation, even 
without deportation, would probably enhance the wages of 
white labour, and, very surely, would not reduce them. Thus, 
the customary amount of labour would still have to be per- 
formed; the freed people would surely not do more than their 
old proportion of it, and very probably, for a time, would do 
less, leaving an increased part to white labourers, bringing 
their labour into greater demand, and, consequently, enhancing 
the wages of it. With deportation, even to a limited extent, 
enhanced wages to white labour is mathematically certain. 
Labour is like any other commodity in the market — increase the 
demand for it, and you increase the price for it. Reduce the 
supply of black labour, by colonizing the black labourer out of 
the country, and, by precisely so much, you increase the demand 
for, and wages of, white labour. 

But it is dreaded that the freed people will swarm forth, and 
cover the whole land. Are they not already in the land? Will 
liberation make them any more numerous? Equally distributed 
among the whites of the whole country, and there would be but 
one coloured to seven whites. Could the one, in any way, 
greatly disturb the seven? There are many communities now, 
having more than one free coloured person, to seven whites; 
and this, without any apparent consciousness of evil from it. 
The District of Columbia, and the states of Maryland and 
Delaware, are all in this condition. The District has more than 
one free coloured to six whites ; and yet, in its frequent petitions 
to Congress, I believe it has never presented the presence of free 
coloured persons as one of its grievances. But why should 
emancipation south, send the free people north? People, of any 
colour, seldom run, unless there be something to run from. 
Heretofore coloured people, to some extent, have fled north 
from bondage; and now, perhaps, from both bondage and 
destitution. But if gradual emancipation and deportation be 
adopted, they will have neither to flee from. Their old masters 
will give them wages at least until new labourers can be procured ; 
and the freed men, in turn, will gladly give their labour for the 
wages, till new homes can be found for them, in congenial climes, 


and with people of their own blood and race. This proposition 
can be trusted on the mutual interests involved. And, in any 
event, cannot the North decide for itself whether to receive them? 

Again, as practice proves more than theory in any case, has 
there been any irruption of coloured people northward, because 
of the abolishment of slavery in this District last spring? 

What I have said of the proportion of free coloured persons to 
the whites, in the District, is from the census of 1860, having no 
reference to persons called contrabands, nor to those made free 
by the act of Congress abolishing slavery here. 

The plan consisting of these articles is recommended, not but 
that a restoration of the national authority would be accepted 
without its adoption. 

Nor will the war, nor proceedings under the proclamation of 
22nd September 1862, be stayed because of the recommendation 
of this plan. Its timely adoption, I doubt not, would bring 
restoration aTid thereby stay both. 

And, notwithstanding this plan, the recommendation that 
Congress provide by law for compensating any state which may 
adopt emancipation, before this plan shall have been acted upon, 
is hereby earnestly renewed. Such would be only an advance 
part of the plan, and the same arguments apply to both. 

This plan is recommended as a means, not in exclusion of, but 
additional to, all others for restoring and preserving the national 
authority throughout the Union. The subject is presented 
exclusively in its economical aspect. The plan would, I am 
confident, secure peace more speedily, and maintain it more 
permanently, than can be done by force alone; while all it would 
cost, considering amounts, and manner of payment, and times 
of payment, would be easier paid than will be the additional cost 
of the war if we rely solely upon force. It is much — very much — 
that it would cost no blood at all. 

The plan is proposed as permanent constitutional law. It 
cannot become such without the concurrence of, first, two-thirds 
of Congress, and, afterwards, three-fourths of the states. The 
requisite three-fourths of the states will necessarily include seven 
of the slave states. Their concurrence, if obtained, will give 
assurance of their severally adopting emancipation, at no very 
distant day, upon the new constitutional terms. This assurance 
would end the struggle now, and save the Union forever. 


I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper 
addressed to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate 
of the nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors, 
nor that many of you have more experience than I, in the conduct 
of public affairs. Yet I trust that in view of the great respon- 
sibility resting upon me, you will perceive no want of respect to 
yourselves, in any undue earnestness I may seem to display. 

Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would 
shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of 
blood? Is it doubted that it would restore the national authority 
and national prosperity, and perpetuate both indefinitely? Is it 
doubted that we here — Congress and Executive — can secure its 
adoption? Will not the good people respond to a united, and 
earnest appeal from us? Can we, can they, by any other means, 
so certainly, or so speedily, assure these vital objects? We can 
succeed only by concert. It is not 'can any of us imagine 
better?' but 'can we all do better?' Object whatsoever is 
possible, still the question recurs 'can we do better?' The 
dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. 
The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with 
the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and 
act anew. We must disenthral ourselves, and then we shall save 
our country. 

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Con- 
gress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of 
ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare 
one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will 
light us down, in honour or dishonour, to the latest generation. 
We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we 
say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows 
we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, 
and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we 
assure freedom to the free — honourable alike in what we give, 
and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the 
last best, hope of earth. Other means may succeed ; this could 
not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way 
which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must 
forever bless. 


Letter to Fanny McCullough, whose father, a friend of Lincoln's, 
had recently been killed in battle. 

23rd December 1862. 

Dear Fanny : It is with deep grief that I learn of the death of 
your kind and brave father; and, especially, that it is affecting 
your young heart beyond what is common in such cases. In this 
sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it 
comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. 
The older have learned to ever expect it. I am anxious to afford 
some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not 
possible, except with time. You cannot now realize that you 
will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. 
You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is cer- 
tainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had 
experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to 
believe it, to feel better at once. The memory of your dear 
father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your 
heart, of a purer, and holier sort than you have known before. 

Please present my kind regards to your afflicted mother. 
Your sincere friend 

The Proclamation of Emancipation. 

1st January 1863. 

By the President of the United States of America: 
A Proclamation. 

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year 
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a pro- 
clamation was issued by the President of the United States, 
containing, among other things, the following, to wit: 

'That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one 
thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as 
slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people 
whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall 
be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive 
Government of the United States, including the military and 
naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom 


of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, 
or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual 

'That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, 
by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, 
in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion 
against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the 
people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented 
in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto 
at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such 
State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong 
countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that 
such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion 
against the United States.' 

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United 
States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in- 
Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of 
actual armed rebellion against authority and government of the 
United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for sup- 
pressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the 
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, 
and in accordance with my purpose, so to do publicly proclaimed 
for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above 
mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States 
wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion 
against the United States, the following, to wit: 

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the Parishes of St Bernard, 
Plaquemines, Jefferson, St Johns, St Charles, St James, Ascen- 
sion, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St Mary, St Martin, 
and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans), Mississippi, 
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, 
and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties designated as West 
Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northamp- 
ton, Elizabeth-City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including 
the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth) ; and which excepted parts 
are, for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not 

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I 
do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said 


designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward 
shall be free ; and that the Executive government of the United 
States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will 
recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. 

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to 
abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I 
recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labour 
faithfully for reasonable wages. 

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of 
suitable condition will be received into the armed service of the 
United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other 
places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service. 

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, 
warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke 
the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favour 
of Almighty God. 

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the 
seal of the United States to be affixed. 

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of 

January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight 

hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the 

United States of America the eighty-seventh. 

By the President: Abraham Lincoln. 

William H. Seward, Secretary of State. 

Letter to General Samuel R. Curtis, commanding the Department 
of the Missouri. 

2nd January 1863. 

My dear Sir : Yours of 29th Dec. by the hand of Mr Strong 
is just received. The day I telegraphed you suspending the order 
in relation to Dr McPheeters, he, with Mr Bates, the Attorney- 
General, appeared before me, and left with me a copy of the 
order mentioned. The doctor also showed me the copy of an 
oath which he said he had taken, which is, indeed, very strong 
and specific. He also verbally assured me that he had constantly 
prayed in church for the President and government, as he had 
always done before the present war. In looking over the recitals 
in your order, I do not see that this matter of the prayer, as he 


states it, is negatived; nor that any violation of his oath is 
charged; nor, in fact, that anything specific is alleged against 
him. The charges are all general — that he has a rebel wife and 
rebel relations, that he sympathizes with rebels, and that he 
exercises rebel influence. Now, after talking with him, I tell you 
frankly, I believe he does sympathize with the rebels; but the 
question remains whether such a man, of unquestioned good 
moral character, who has taken such an oath as he has, and 
cannot even be charged of violating it, and who can be charged 
with no other specific act or omission, can, with safety to the 
government be exiled, upon the suspicion of his secret sympathies. 
But I agree that this must be left to you who are on the spot; 
and if, after all, you think the public good requires his removal, 
my suspension of the order is withdrawn, only with this qualifica- 
tion that the time during the suspension, is not to be counted 
against him. I have promised him this. 

But I must add that the U.S. government must not, as by this 
order, undertake to run the churches. When an individual, in a 
church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest, he 
must be checked; but let the churches as such take care of them- 
selves. It will not do for the U.S. to appoint trustees, super- 
visors, or other agents for the churches. Yours very truly 

P.S. The committee composed of Messrs Yeatman and Filley 
(Mr Brodhead not attending) has presented your letter and the 
memorial of sundry citizens. On the whole subject embraced, 
exercise your best judgment, with a sole view to the public 
interest, and I will not interfere without hearing you. 

Letter to General John A. McClernand. 

8th January 1863. 

My dear Sir : Your interesting communication by the hand of 
Major Scates is received. 1 I never did ask more, nor ever was 
willing to accept less, than for all the states, and the people 

1 McClernand had written that Confederate officers, formerly his personal 
and political friends, 'desire the restoration of peace and are represented 
to be willing to wheel their columns into the line of that policy. They 
admit that the South-west and the North-west are geographically and 
commercially identified. . . .* 


thereof, to take and hold their places, and their rights, in the 
Union, under the Constitution of the United States. For this 
alone have I felt authorized to struggle; and I seek neither more 
nor less now. Still, to use a coarse but an expressive figure, 
broken eggs cannot be mended. I have issued the emancipa- 
tion proclamation, and I cannot retract it. 

After the commencement of hostilities I struggled nearly a year 
and a half to get along without touching the 'institution'; and 
when finally I conditionally determined to touch it, I gave a 
hundred days' fair notice of my purpose, to all the states and 
people, within which time they could have turned it wholly aside, 
by simply again becoming good citizens of the United States. 
They chose to disregard it, and I made the peremptory proclama- 
tion on what appeared to me to be a military necessity. And 
being made, it must stand. As to the states not included in it, 
of course they can have their rights in the Union as of old. 
Even the people of the states included, if they choose, need not 
to be hurt by it. Let them adopt systems of apprenticeship for 
the coloured people, conforming substantially to the most 
approved plans of gradual emancipation; and, with the aid they 
can have from the general government, they may be nearly as 
well off, in this respect, as if the present trouble had not occurred, 
and much better off than they can possibly be if the contest 
continues persistently. 

As to any dread of my having a ' purpose to enslave, or exter- 
minate, the whites of the South,' I can scarcely believe that such 
dread exists. It is too absurd. I believe you can be my personal 
witness that no man is less to be dreaded for undue severity, in 
any case. 

If the friends you mention really wish to have peace upon the 
old terms, they should act at once. Every day makes the case 
more difficult. They can so act, with entire safety, so far as I 
am concerned. 

I think you would better not make this letter public; but you 
may rely confidently on my standing by whatever I have said in 
it. Please write me if anything more comes to light. Yours 
very truly 


Letter to the working men of Manchester, England. 

19th January 1863. 

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of the address 
and resolutions which you sent to me on the eve of the new year. 

When I came, on the fourth day of March 1861, through a free 
and constitutional election, to preside in the government of the 
United States, the country was found at the verge of civil war. 
Whatever might have been the cause, or whosesoever the fault, 
one duty paramount to all others was before me, namely, to main- 
tain and preserve at once the Constitution and the integrity of the 
federal republic. A conscientious purpose to perform this duty 
is a key to all the measures of administration which have been, 
and to all which will hereafter be pursued. Under our form of 
government, and my official oath, I could not depart from this 
purpose if I would. It is not always in the power of governments 
to enlarge or restrict the scope of moral results which follow the 
policies that they may deem it necessary for the public safety, 
from time to time, to adopt. 

I have understood well that the duty of self-preservation rests 
solely with the American people. But I have at the same time 
been aware that favour or disfavour of foreign nations might 
have a material influence in enlarging and prolonging the struggle 
with disloyal men in which the country is engaged. A fair 
examination of history has seemed to authorize a belief that the 
past action and influences of the United States were generally 
regarded as having been beneficent towards mankind. I have 
therefore reckoned upon the forbearance of nations. Circum- 
stances, to some of which you kindly allude, induced me espe- 
cially to expect that if justice and good faith should be practised 
by the United States, they would encounter no hostile influence 
on the part of Great Britain. It is now a pleasant duty to 
acknowledge the demonstration you have given of your desire 
that a spirit of peace and amity towards this country may prevail 
in the councils of your Queen, who is respected and esteemed in 
your own country only more than she is by the kindred nation 
which has its home on this side of the Atlantic. 

I know and deeply deplore the sufferings which the working 
men at Manchester and in all Europe are called to endure in this 
crisis. It has been often and studiously represented that the 


attempt to overthrow this government, which was built upon the 
foundation of human rights, and to substitute for it one which 
should rest exclusively on the basis of human slavery, was likely 
to obtain the favour of Europe. Through the actions of our 
disloyal citizens the working men of Europe have been subjected 
to a severe trial, for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that 
attempt. Under these circumstances, I cannot but regard your 
decisive utterance upon the question as an instance of sublime 
Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or in 
any country. It is, indeed, an energetic and reinspiring assurance 
of the inherent power of truth and of the ultimate and universal 
triumph of justice, humanity, and freedom. I do not doubt that 
the sentiments you have expressed will be sustained by your great 
nation, and, on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assuring 
you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the most 
reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people. I 
hail this interchange of sentiment, therefore, as an augury that, 
whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your 
country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exist 
between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make 
them, perpetual. 1 

Letter to General Joseph Hooker. 

26th January 1863. 

I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. 
Of course I have done this upon what appear to me to be sufficient 
reasons. And yet I think it best for you to know that there are 
some things in regard to which, I am not quite satisfied with you. 

x On 31st December 1862 a public meeting of the working men of 
Manchester had adopted an address to the President of the United States 
which read in part: 

'We honour your free States, as a singular, happy abode for the working 
millions. . . . One thing alone has, in the past, lessened our sympathy 
with your country and our confidence in it; we mean the ascendancy of 
politicians who not merely maintained Negro slavery, but desired to extend 
and root it more firmly. Since we have discerned, however, that the victory 
of the free north, in the war which has so sorely distressed us as well as 
afflicted you, will strike off the fetters of the slave, you have attracted our 
warm and earnest sympathy. 

'We joyfully honour you, as the President, and the Congress with you, 
for the many decisive steps towards practically exemplifying your belief 
in the words of your great founders, "All men are created free and equal.'" 


I believe you to be a brave and a skilful soldier, which, of course, 
I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profes- 
sion, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, 
which is a valuable, if not an indispensable quality. You are 
ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather 
than harm. But I think that during Gen. Burnside's command 
of the Army, you have taken counsel of your ambition, and 
thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great 
wrong to the country, and to a most meritorious and honourable 
brother officer. I have heard, in such way as to believe it, of 
your recently saying that both the Army and the government 
needed a dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of 
it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals 
who gain successes, can set up dictators. What I now ask of 
you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The 
government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is 
neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all com- 
manders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to 
infuse into the Army, of criticizing their commander, and with- 
holding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall 
assist you as far as I can, to put it down. Neither you, nor 
Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an 
army, while such a spirit prevails in it. 

And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with 
energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward, and give us victories. 
Yours very truly 

Letter to Mrs L. H. Phipps. 

9th March 1863. 

Yours of the 8th is received. It is difficult for you to under- 
stand, what is, nevertheless true, that the bare reading of a letter 
of that length requires more than any one person's share of my 
time. And when read, what is it but an evidence that you intend 
to importune me for one thing, and another, and another, until, 
in self-defence, I must drop all and devote myself to find a place, 
even though I remove somebody else to do it, and thereby turn 
him and his friends upon me for indefinite future importunity, 
and hindrance from the legitimate duties for which I am supposed 
to be placed here? Yours etc. 


Letter to General John M. Schofield. 

27th May 1863. 

My dear Sir: Having relieved Gen. Curtis and assigned you to 
the command of the Department of the Missouri — I think it may 
be of some advantage for me to state to you why I did it. I did 
not relieve Gen. Curtis because of any full conviction that he had 
done wrong by commission or omission. I did it because of a 
conviction in my mind that the Union men of Missouri, constitu- 
ing, when united, a vast majority of the whole people, have 
entered into a pestilent factional quarrel among themselves, 
Gen. Curtis, perhaps not of choice, being the head of one faction, 
and Gov. Gamble that of the other. After months of labour to 
reconcile the difficulty, it seemed to grow worse and worse until 
I felt it my duty to break it up somehow; and as I could not 
remove Gov. Gamble, I had to remove Gen. Curtis. Now that 
you are in the position, I wish you to undo nothing merely 
because Gen. Curtis or Gov. Gamble did it; but to exercise your 
own judgment, and do right for the public interest. Let your 
military measures be strong enough to repel the invader and keep 
the peace, and not so strong as to unnecessarily harass and 
persecute the people. It is a difficult role, and so much greater 
will be the honour if you perform it well. If both factions, or 
neither, shall abuse you, you will probably be about right. 
Beware of being assailed by one, and praised by the other. 
Yours truly 

Telegram to General Joseph Hooker, facing Lee and the Army of 
Northern Virginia. 

5th June 1863. 

Yours of to-day was received an hour ago. So much of 
professional military skill is requisite to answer it, that I have 
turned the task over to Gen. Halleck. He promises to perform 
it with his utmost care. I have but one idea which I think worth 
suggesting to you, and that is in case you find Lee coming to the 
north of the Rappahannock, I would by no means cross to the 
south of it. If he should leave a rear force at Fredericksburg, 
tempting you to fall upon it, it would fight in intrenchments, and 
have you at disadvantage, and so, man for man, worst you at 


that point, while his main force would in some way be getting 
an advantage of you northward. In one word, I would not take 
any risk of being entangled upon the river, like an ox jumped 
half over a fence and liable to be torn by dogs, front and rear, 
without a fair chance to gore one way or kick the other. If Lee 
would come to my side of the river I would keep on the same side 
and fight him, or act on the defence, according as might be my 
estimate of his strength relatively to my own. But these are 
mere suggestions which I desire to be controlled by the judgment 
of yourself and Gen. Halleck. 

Telegram to General Joseph Hooker. 

10th June 1863. 

Your long dispatch of to-day is just received. If left to me, I 
would not go south of the Rappahannock, upon Lee's moving 
north of it. If you had Richmond invested to-day, you would 
not be able to take it in twenty days; meanwhile, your com- 
munications, and with them, your army, would be ruined. I 
think Lee's army, and not Richmond, is your true objective 
point. If he comes towards the Upper Potomac, follow on his 
flank, and on the inside track, shortening your lines, whilst he 
lengthens his. Fight him when opportunity offers. If he stays 
where he is, fret him, and fret him. 

To Erastus Corning and Others, Democratic critics of the adminis- 

[12th June] 1863. 

Gentlemen: Your letter of 19th May inclosing the resolutions 
of a public meeting held at Albany, New York, on the 16th of the 
same month, was received several days ago. 

The resolutions, as I understand them, are resolvable into two 
propositions — first, the expression of a purpose to sustain the 
cause of the Union, to secure peace through victory, and to 
support the administration in every constitutional and lawful 
measure to suppress the rebellion ; and secondly, a declaration of 
censure upon the administration for supposed unconstitutional 
action such as the making of military arrests. 


And, from the two propositions a third is deduced, which is, 
that the gentlemen composing the meeting are resolved on doing 
their part to maintain our common government and country, 
despite the folly or wickedness, as they may conceive, of any 
administration. This position is eminently patriotic, and as 
such, I thank the meeting, and congratulate the nation for it. 
My own purpose is the same; so that the meeting and myself 
have a common object, and can have no difference, except in the 
choice of means or measures, for effecting that object. 

And here I ought to close this paper, and would close it, if 
there were no apprehension that more injurious consequences, 
than any merely personal to myself, might follow the censures 
systematically cast upon me for doing what, in my view of duty, 
I could not forbear. The resolutions promise to support me in 
every constitutional and lawful measure to suppress the rebellion; 
and I have not knowingly employed, nor shall knowingly employ, 
any other. But the meeting, by their resolutions, assert and 
argue, that certain military arrests and proceedings following 
them for which I am ultimately responsible, are unconstitutional. 
I think they are not. The resolutions quote from the Constitu- 
tion the definition of treason ; and also the limiting safeguards and 
guarantees therein provided for the citizen, on trials for treason, 
and on his being held to answer for capital or otherwise infamous 
crimes, and, in criminal prosecutions, his right to a speedy and 
public trial by an impartial jury. They proceed to resolve 'That 
these safeguards of the rights of the citizen against the pretensions 
of arbitrary power, were intended more especially for his pro- 
tection in times of civil commotion.' And, apparently, to 
demonstrate the proposition, the resolutions proceed 'They were 
secured substantially to the English people, after years of pro- 
tracted civil war, and were adopted into our constitution at the 
close of the Revolution.' Would not the demonstration have 
been better, if it could have been truly said that these safeguards 
had been adopted, and applied during the civil wars and during 
our Revolution, instead of after the one, and at the close of the 
other? I too am devotedly for them after civil war, and before 
civil war, and at all times 'except when, in cases of rebellion or 
invasion, the public safety may require' their suspension. The 
resolutions proceed to tell us that these safeguards 'have stood 
the test of seventy-six years of trial, under our republican system, 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 237 

under circumstances which show that while they constitute the 
foundation of all free government, they are the elements of the 
enduring stability of the Republic' No one denies that they 
have so stood the test up to the beginning of the present rebellion 
if we except a certain matter at New Orleans hereafter to be 
mentioned; nor does anyone question that they will stand the 
same test much longer after the rebellion closes. But these 
provisions of the Constitution have no application to the case we 
have in hand, because the arrests complained of were not made 
for treason — that is, not for the treason defined in the Constitu- 
tion, and upon the conviction of which, the punishment is death 
— nor yet were they made to hold persons to answer for any 
capital, or otherwise infamous crimes; nor were the proceedings 
following, in any constitutional or legal sense, 'criminal pro- 
secutions.' The arrests were made on totally different grounds, 
and the proceedings following accorded with the grounds of the 
arrests. Let us consider the real case with which we are dealing, 
and apply to it the parts of the Constitution plainly made for 
such cases. 

Prior to my installation here it had been inculcated that any 
state had a lawful right to secede from the national Union; and 
that it would be expedient to exercise the right, whenever the 
devotees of the doctrine should fail to elect a President to their 
own liking. I was elected contrary to their liking; and accord- 
ingly, so far as it was legally possible, they had taken seven states 
out of the Union, had seized many of the United States forts, and 
had fired upon the United States flag, all before I was inaugu- 
rated; and, of course, before I had done any official act whatever. 
The rebellion, thus began, soon ran into the present civil war; 
and, in certain respects, it began on very unequal terms between 
the parties. The insurgents had been preparing for it more than 
thirty years, while the government had taken no steps to resist 
them. The former had carefully considered all the means which 
could be turned to their account. It undoubtedly was a well- 
pondered reliance with them that in their own unrestricted effort 
to destroy Union, Constitution, and law, all together, the govern- 
ment would, in great degree, be restrained by the same Constitu- 
tion and law, from arresting their progress. Their sympathizers 
pervaded all departments of the government, and nearly all 
communities of the people. From this material, under cover of 


* Liberty of speech,' * Liberty of the press,' and 'Habeas corpus' 
they hoped to keep on foot amongst us a most efficient corps of 
spies, informers, suppliers, and aiders and abettors of their cause 
in a thousand ways. They knew that in times such as they were 
inaugurating, by the Constitution itself, the 'Habeas corpus' 
might be suspended; but they also knew they had friends who 
would make a question as to who was to suspend it; meanwhile 
their spies and others might remain at large to help on their 
cause. Or if, as has happened, the executive should suspend the 
writ, without ruinous waste of time, instances of arresting inno- 
cent persons might occur, as are always likely to occur in such 
cases ; and then a clamour could be raised in regard to this, which 
might be, at least, of some service to the insurgent cause. It 
needed no very keen perception to discover this part of the 
enemies' programme, so soon as by open hostilities their ma- 
chinery was fairly put in motion. Yet, thoroughly imbued with a 
reverence for the guaranteed rights of individuals, I was slow to 
adopt the strong measures, which by degrees I have been forced 
to regard as being within the exceptions of the Constitution, and 
as indispensable to the public safety. Nothing is better known to 
history than that courts of justice are utterly incompetent to such 
cases. Civil courts are organized chiefly for trials of individuals, 
or, at most, a few individuals acting in concert; and this in quiet 
times, and on charges of crimes well defined in the law. Even 
in times of peace, bands of horse-thieves and robbers frequently 
grow too numerous and powerful for the ordinary courts of 
justice. But what comparison, in numbers, have such bands 
ever borne to the insurgent sympathizers even in many of the 
loyal states? Again, a jury too frequently have at least one 
member, more ready to hang the panel than to hang the traitor. 
And yet again, he who dissuades one man from volunteering, or 
induces one soldier to desert, weakens the Union cause as much 
as he who kills a Union soldier in battle. Yet this dissuasion, 
or inducement, may be so conducted as to be no defined crime 
of which any civil court would take cognizance. 

Ours is a case of rebellion — so called by the resolutions before 
me — in fact, a clear, flagrant, and gigantic case of rebellion; and 
the provision of the Constitution that 'The privilege of the writ 
of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of 
rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it' is the 


provision which specially applies to our present case. This 
provision plainly attests the understanding of those who made 
the Constitution that ordinary courts of justice are inadequate 
to 'cases of rebellion' — attests their purpose that in such cases, 
men may be held in custody whom the courts acting on ordinary 
rules, would discharge. Habeas corpus does not discharge men 
who are proved to be guilty of defined crime; and its suspension is 
allowed by the Constitution on purpose that men may be arrested, 
and held, who cannot be proved to be guilty of defined crime, 
'when, in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may 
require it.' This is precisely our present case — a case of rebel- 
lion, wherein the public safety does require the suspension. 
Indeed, arrests by process of courts, and arrests in cases of rebel- 
lion, do not proceed altogether upon the same basis. The former 
is directed at the small percentage of ordinary and continuous 
perpetration of crime; while the latter is directed at sudden and 
extensive uprisings against the government, which, at most, will 
succeed or fail, in no great length of time. In the latter case, 
arrests are made, not so much for what has been done, as for 
what probably would be done. The latter is more for the 
preventive, and less for the vindictive, than the former. In such 
cases the purposes of men are much more easily understood, than 
in cases of ordinary crime. The man who stands by and says 
nothing, when the peril of his government is discussed, cannot be 
misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the enemy. 
Much more, if he talks ambiguously — talks for his country with 
' buts ' and ' ifs ' and ' ands.' Of how little value the constitutional 
provision I have quoted will be rendered, if arrests shall never be 
made until defined crimes shall have been committed, may be 
illustrated by a few notable examples. Gen. John C. Breckin- 
ridge, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Gen. John 
B. Magruder, Gen. William B. Preston, Gen. Simon B. Buckner, 
and Commodore Buchanan, now occupying the very highest 
places in the rebel war service, were all within the power of the 
government since the rebellion began, and were nearly as well 
known to be traitors then as now. Unquestionably if we had 
seized and held them, the insurgent cause would be much weaker. 
But no one of them had then committed any crime defined in the 
law. Every one of them if arrested would have been discharged 
on habeas corpus, were the writ allowed to operate. In view of 


these and similar cases, I think the time not unlikely to come 
when I shall be blamed for having made too few arrests rather 
than too many. 

By the third resolution the meeting indicate their opinon that 
military arrests may be constitutional in localities where rebellion 
actually exists; but that such arrests are unconstitutional in 
localities where rebellion, or insurrection, does not actually 
exist. They insist that such arrests shall not be made ' outside of 
the lines of necessary military occupation, and the scenes of 
insurrection.' Inasmuch, however, as the Constitution itself 
makes no such distinction, I am unable to believe that there is 
any such constitutional distinction. I concede that the class of 
arrests complained of, can be constitutional only when, in cases 
of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require them; and 
I insist that in such cases, they are constitutional wherever the 
public safety does require them — as well in places to which they 
may prevent the rebellion extending, as in those where it may be 
already prevailing — as well where they may restrain mischievous 
interference with the raising and supplying of armies, to suppress 
the rebellion, as where the rebellion may actually be — as well 
where they may restrain the enticing men out of the army, as 
where they would prevent mutiny in the army — equally constitu- 
tional at all places where they will conduce to the public safety, 
as against the dangers of rebellion or invasion. 

Take the particular case mentioned by the meeting. They 
assert in substance that Mr Vallandigham was by a military 
commander, seized and tried 'for no other reason than words 
addressed to a public meeting, in criticism of the course of the 
administration, and in condemnation of the military orders of 
that general.' x Now, if there be no mistake about this — if this 
assertion is the truth and the whole truth — if there was no other 
reason for the arrest, then I concede that the arrest was wrong. 
But the arrest, as I understand, was made for a very different 

1 Clement L. Vallandigham, former Democratic Congressman from 
Ohio, had, by the spring of 1863, become the boldest northern opponent 
of the war. On 5th May 1863 he had been arrested at Dayton, and on the 
following day was convicted by a military commission for expressing 
treasonable sympathy with the rebellion. Lincoln banished him to the 
Confederacy. When Vallandigham returned to the United States a year 
later the government ignored him. His increasingly intemperate attacks 
and the turning fortunes of the war soon stripped him of influence. 


reason. Mr Vallandigham avows his hostility to the war on 
the part of the Union ; and his arrest was made because he was 
labouring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops, to 
encourage desertions from the army, and to leave the rebellion 
without an adequate military force to suppress it. He was not 
arrested because he was damaging the political prospects of the 
administration, or the personal interests of the commanding 
general; but because he was damaging the army, upon the 
existence, and vigour of which, the life of the nation depends. 
He was warring upon the military; and this gave the military 
constitutional jurisdiction to lay hands upon him. If Mr 
Vallandigham was not damaging the military power of the 
country, then his arrest was made on mistake of fact, which I 
would be glad to correct, on reasonably satisfactory evidence. 

I understand the meeting, whose resolutions I am considering, 
to be in favour of suppressing the rebellion by military force — 
by armies. Long experience has shown that armies cannot be 
maintained unless desertion shall be punished by the severe 
penalty of death. The case requires, and the law and the Con- 
stitution sanction this punishment. Must I shoot a simple- 
minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of 
a wily agitator who induces him to desert? This is none the less 
injurious when effected by getting a father, a brother, or friend, 
into a public meeting, and there working upon his feelings, till he 
is persuaded to write the soldier boy that he is fighting in a bad 
cause, for a wicked administration of a contemptible govern- 
ment, too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert. I 
think that in such a case, to silence the agitator, and save the boy, 
is not only constitutional, but, withal, a great mercy. 

If I be wrong on this question of constitutional power, my 
error lies in believing that certain proceedings are constitutional 
when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety requires 
them, which would not be constitutional when, in absence of 
rebellion or invasion, the public safety does not require them — 
in other words, that the Constitution is not in its application in 
all respects the same, in cases of rebellion or invasion, involving 
the public safety, as it is in time of profound peace and public 
security. The Constitution itself makes the distinction; and I 
can no more be persuaded that the government can constitu- 
tionally take no strong measure in time of rebellion, because it 



can be shown that the same could not be lawfully taken in time 
of peace, than I can be persuaded that a particular drug is not 
good medicine for a sick man, because it can be shown to not be 
good food for a well one. Nor am I able to appreciate the 
danger, apprehended by the meeting, that the American people 
will, by means of military arrests during the rebellion, lose the 
right of public discussion, the liberty of speech and the press, the 
law of evidence, trial by jury, and habeas corpus, throughout the 
indefinite peaceful future which I trust lies before them, any more 
than I am able to believe that a man could contract so strong an 
appetite for emetics during temporary illness, as to persist in 
feeding upon them through the remainder of his healthful life. 

In giving the resolutions that earnest consideration which you 
request of me, I cannot overlook the fact that the meeting speak 
as * Democrats.' Nor can I, with full respect for their known 
intelligence, and the fairly presumed deliberation with which they 
prepared their resolutions, be permitted to suppose that this 
occurred by accident, or in any way other than that they preferred 
to designate themselves 'Democrats' rather than 'American 
citizens.' In this time of national peril I would have preferred 
to meet you upon a level one step higher than any party platform; 
because I am sure that from such more elevated position, we 
could do better battle for the country we all love, than we possibly 
can from those lower ones, where from the force of habit, the 
prejudices of the past, and selfish hopes of the future, we are sure 
to expend much of our ingenuity and strength, in finding fault 
with, and aiming blows at each other. But since you have 
denied me this, I will yet be thankful, for the country's sake, that 
not all Democrats have done so. He on whose discretionary 
judgment Mr Vallandigham was arrested and tried, is a Demo- 
crat, having no old party affinity with me; and the judge who 
rejected the constitutional view expressed in these resolutions, by 
refusing to discharge Mr V. on habeas corpus, is a Democrat of 
better days than these, having received his judicial mantle at 
the hands of President Jackson. And still more, of all those 
Democrats who are nobly exposing their lives and shedding their 
blood on the battlefield, I have learned that many approve the 
course taken with Mr V. while I have not heard of a single one 
condemning it. I cannot assert that there are none such. 


And yet, let me say that in my own discretion, I do not know 
whether I would have ordered the arrest of Mr V. While I 
cannot shift the responsibility from myself, I hold that, as a 
general rule, the commander in the field is the better judge of the 
necessity in any particular case. Of course I must practise a 
general directory and revisory power in the matter. 

One of the resolutions expresses the opinion of the meeting 
that arbitrary arrests will have the effect to divide and distract 
those who should be united in suppressing the rebellion; and I 
am specificially called on to discharge Mr Vallandigham. I 
regard this as, at least, a fair appeal to me, on the expediency of 
exercising a constitutional power which I think exists. In 
response to such appeal I have to say it gave me pain when I 
learned that Mr V. had been arrested — that is, I was pained that 
there should have seemed to be a necessity for arresting him — 
and that it will afford me great pleasure to discharge him so soon 
as I can, by any means, believe the public safety will not suffer 
by it. I further say, that as the war progresses, it appears to me, 
opinion, and action, which were in great confusion at first, take 
shape, and fall into more regular channels ; so that the necessity 
for arbitrary dealing with them gradually decreases. I have 
every reason to desire that it would cease altogether; and far 
from the least is my regard for the opinions and wishes of those 
who, like the meeting at Albany, declare their purpose to sustain 
the government in every constitutional and lawful measure to 
suppress the rebellion. Still, I must continue to do so much as 
may seem to be required by the public safety. 

Letter to General Joseph Hooker. 

16th June 1863. 

My dear General: I send you this by the hand of Captain 
Dahlgren. Your dispatch of 11.30 a.m. to-day is just received. 
When you say I have long been aware that you do not enjoy the 
confidence of the major-general commanding, you state the case 
much too strongly. 

You do not lack his confidence in any degree to do you any 
harm. On seeing him, after telegraphing you this morning, I 
found him more nearly agreeing with you than I was myself. 
Surely you do not mean to understand that I am withholding my 


confidence from you when I happen to express an opinion 
(certainly never discourteously) differing from one of your 

I believe Halleck is dissatisfied with you to this extent only, 
that he knows that you write and telegraph ('report,' as he calls 
it) to me. I think he is wrong to find fault with this; but I do 
not think he withholds any support from you on account of it. 
If you and he would use the same frankness to one another, and 
to me, that I use to both of you, there would be no difficulty. 
I need and must have the professional skill of both, and yet these 
suspicions tend to deprive me of both. 

I believe you are aware that since you took command of the 
army I have not believed you had any chance to effect anything 
till now. As it looks to me, Lee's now returning toward Harper's 
Ferry gives you back the chance that I thought McClellan lost 
last fall. Quite possibly I was wrong both then and now; but, 
in the great responsibility resting upon me, I cannot be entirely 
silent. Now, all I ask is that you will be in such mood that we 
can get into our action the best cordial judgment of yourself and 
General Halleck, with my poor mite added, if indeed he and you 
shall think it entitled to any consideration at all. Yours as ever 

Letter to General Robert H. Milroy, who had been badly defeated 
at Winchester two weeks earlier. 

29th June 1863. 

My dear Sir: Your letters to Mr Blair and to myself, are handed 
to me by him. I have never doubted your courage and devotion 
to the cause. But you have just lost a Division, and prima facie 
the fault is upon you ; and while that remains unchanged, for me 
to put you in command again is to justly subject me to the charge 
of having put you there on purpose to have you lose another. If 
I knew facts sufficient to satisfy me that you were not in fault, or 
error, the case would be different. But the facts I do know, while 
they are not at all conclusive, and I hope they may never prove 
so, tend the other way. 

First, I have scarcely seen anything from you at any time, that 
did not contain imputations against your superiors, and a 
chafing against acting the part they had assigned you. You have 


constantly urged the idea that you were persecuted because you 
did not come from West Point, and you repeat it in these letters. 
This, my dear general, is I fear, the rock on which you have 

In the Winchester case, you were under General Schenck, and 
he under Gen. Halleck. I know by Gen. Halleck's order-book, 
that he, on the 11th of June advised Gen. Schenck to call you in 
from Winchester to Harper's Ferry; and I have been told, but do 
not know, that Gen. Schenck gave you the order accordingly, on 
the same day — and I have been told, but do not know, that on 
receiving it, instead of obeying it, you sent by mail a written 
protest against obeying it, which did not reach him until you 
were actually beleaguered at Winchester. I say I do not know 
this. You hate West Point generally, and General Halleck 
particularly; but I do know that it is not his fault that you were 
at Winchester on the 13th, 14th, and morning of the 15th — the 
days of your disaster. If Gen. Schenck gave the order on the 
11th as Gen. Halleck advised, it was an easy matter for you to 
have been off at least on the 1 2th. The case is inevitably between 
Gen. Schenck and you. Neither Gen. Halleck, nor anyone else, 
so far as I know, required you to stay and fight 60,000, with 6,000 
as you insinuate. I know Gen. Halleck, through Gen. Schenck, 
required you to get away, and that in abundant time for you to 
have done it. Gen. Schenck is not a West Pointer and has no 
prejudice against you on that score. Yours very truly 

Announcement of victory at Gettysburg. 

4th July 1863. 

The President announces to the country that news from the 
Army of the Potomac, up to 10 p.m. of the 3rd, is such as to 
cover that Army with the highest honour, to promise a great 
success to the cause of the Union, and to claim the condolence 
of all for the many gallant fallen. And that for this, he espe- 
cially desires that on this day, He whose will, not ours, should 
ever be done, be everywhere remembered and reverenced with 
profoundest gratitude. 


Letter to General Ulysses S. Grant, who had taken Vicksburg nine 
days earlier. 

13th July 1863. 

My dear General : I do not remember that you and I ever met 
personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledment for the 
almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish 
to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of 
Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally did — march 
the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, 
and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general 
hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, 
and the like, could succeed. When you got below and took 
Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go 
down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned 
northward east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I 
now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were 
right, and I was wrong. Yours very truly 

Letter, never sent, to General George G. Meade, who had com- 
manded the Army of the Potomac since 28th June. 

14th July 1863. 

I have just seen your dispatch to Gen. Halleck, asking to be 
relieved of your command, because of a supposed censure of 
mine. I am very — very — grateful to you for the magnificent 
success you gave the cause of the country at Gettysburg; and I 
am sorry now to be the author of the slightest pain to you. But 
I was in such deep distress myself that I could not restrain some 
expression of it. I have been oppressed nearly ever since the 
battles at Gettysburg, by what appeared to be evidences that 
yourself, and Gen. Couch, and Gen. Smith, were not seeking a 
collision with the enemy, but were trying to get him across the 
river without another battle. What these evidences were, if you 
please, I hope to tell you at some time, when we shall both feel 
better. The case, summarily stated, is this. You fought and 
beat the enemy at Gettysburg; and, of course, to say the least, 
his loss was as great as yours. He retreated; and you did not, 
as it seemed to me, pressingly pursue him; but a flood in the 
river detained him, till, by slow degrees, you were again upon 


him. You had at least twenty thousand veteran troops directly 
with you, and as many more raw ones within supporting distance, 
all in addition to those who fought with you at Gettysburg; while 
it was not possible that he had received a single recruit; and yet 
you stood and let the flood run down, bridges be built, and the 
enemy move away at his leisure, without attacking him. And 
Couch and Smith! The latter left Carlisle in time, upon all 
ordinary calculation, to have aided you in the last battle at 
Gettysburg; but he did not arrive. At the end of more than ten 
days, I believe twelve, under constant urging, he reached Hagers- 
town from Carlisle, which is not an inch over fifty-five miles, if 
so much. And Couch's movement was very little different. 

Again, my dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the 
magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee's escape. He was 
within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in 
connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. 
As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. If you could not 
safely attack Lee last Monday, how can you possibly do so south 
of the river, when you can take with you very few more than 
two-thirds of the force you then had in hand? It would be 
unreasonable to expect, and I do not expect you can now effect 
much. Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed 
immeasurably because of it. 

I beg you will not consider this a prosecution, or persecution of 
yourself. As you had learned that I was dissatisfied, I have 
thought it best to kindly tell you why. 

Letter to Francis P. Blair, Sr. 

30th July 1863. 

My dear Sir: Yours of to-day with enclosure is received. 
Yesterday I commenced trying to get up an expedition for Texas. 
I shall do the best I can. Meantime I would like to know who 
is the great man Alexander, that talks so oracularly about 'if 
the president keeps his word' and Banks not having 'capacity 
to run an omnibus on Broadway.' How has this Alexander's 
immense light been obscured hitherto? 1 Yours truly 

1 Blair replied that William Alexander, then living in New York City, 
was 'a Texan of talent, a lawyer, one of the first Union men driven out and 
made the agent of like sufferers.' 


Letter to Mary Todd Lincoln, in the White Mountains. 

8th August 1863. 

My dear Wife: All is well as usual, and no particular trouble 
any way. I put the money into the Treasury at 5 per cent, with 
the privilege of withdrawing it any time upon thirty days' notice. 
I suppose you are glad to learn this. Tell dear Tad, poor 
'Nanny Goat,' is lost; and Mrs Cuthbert and I are in distress 
about it. The day you left Nanny was found resting herself, 
and chewing her little cud, on the middle of Tad's bed. But 
now she's gone! The gardener kept complaining that she 
destroyed the flowers, till it was concluded to bring her down to 
the White House. This was done, and the second day she had 
disappeared, and has not been heard of since. This is the last 
we know of poor 'Nanny.' 

The weather continues dry, and excessively warm here. 

Nothing very important occurring. The election in Kentucky 
has gone very strongly right. Old Mr Wickliffe got ugly, as you 
know, ran for Governor, and is terribly beaten. Upon Mr 
Crittenden's death, Brutus Clay, Cassius's brother, was put on 
the track for Congress, and is largely elected. Mr Menzies, who, 
as we thought, behaved very badly last session of Congress, is 
largely beaten in the district opposite Cincinnati, by Green Clay 
Smith, Cassius Clay's nephew. But enough. Affectionately 

Letter to General John A. McClernand, whom Grant had relieved 
during the Vicksburg campaign. 

12th August 1863. 

My dear Sir: Our friend, William G. Greene, has just presented 
a kind letter in regard to yourself, addressed to me by our 
other friends, Yates, Hatch, and Dubois. I doubt whether your 
present position is more painful to you than to myself. Grateful 
for the patriotic stand so early taken by you in this life-and-death 
struggle of the nation, I have done whatever has appeared 
practicable to advance you and the public interest together. No 
charges, with a view to a trial, have been preferred against you 
by anyone ; nor do I suppose any will be. All there is, so far as 
I have heard, is Gen. Grant's statement of his reasons for reliev- 
ing you. And even this I have not seen or sought to see ; because 


it is a case, as appears to me, in which I could do nothing without 
doing harm. Gen. Grant and yourself have been conspicuous 
in our most important successes; and for me to interfere, and 
thus magnify a breach between you, could not but be of evil 
effect. Better leave it where the law of the case has placed it. 
For me to force you back upon Gen. Grant would be forcing 
him to resign. I cannot give you a new command because we 
have no forces except such as already have commanders. I am 
constantly pressed by those who scold before they think, or 
without thinking at all, to give commands respectively to 
Fremont, McClellan, Butler, Sigel, Curtis, Hunter, Hooker, and 
perhaps others; when, all else out of the way, I have no com- 
mands to give them. This is now your case, which, as I have 
before said, pains me not less than it does you. 

My belief is that the permanent estimate of what a general does 
in the field, is fixed by the 'cloud of witnesses' who have been 
with him in the field; and that relying on these, he who has the 
right needs not to fear. Your friend as ever 

Letter to James H. Hackett, actor. 

17th August 1863. 

My dear Sir: Months ago I should have acknowledged the 
receipt of your book, and accompanying kind note; and I now 
have to beg your pardon for not having done so. 

For one of my age, I have seen very little of the drama. The 
first presentation of Falstaff I ever saw was yours here, last 
winter or spring. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay is to 
say, as I truly can, I am very anxious to see it again. Some of 
Shakespeare's plays I have never read; while others I have gone 
over perhaps as frequently as any unprofessional reader. Among 
the latter are Lear, Richard Third, Henry Eighth, Hamlet, and 
especially Macbeth. I think nothing equals Macbeth. It is 
wonderful. Unlike you gentlemen of the profession, I think the 
soliloquy in Hamlet commencing 'O, my offence is rank' sur- 
passes that commencing 'To be, or not to be.' But pardon this 
small attempt at criticism. I should like to hear you pronounce 
the opening speech of Richard the Third. Will you not soon 
visit Washington again? If you do, please call and let me make 
your personal acquaintance. Yours truly 

* T 206 


Letter to General James G. Blunt, commanding in Arkansas. 

18th August 1863. 

Yours of 31st July is received. Governor Carney did leave 
some papers with me concerning you; but they made no great 
impression upon me; and I believe they are not altogether such 
as you seem to think. As I am not proposing to act upon them, 
I do not now take the time to re-examine them. 

I regret to find you denouncing so many persons as liars, 
scoundrels, fools, thieves, and persecutors of yourself. Your 
military position looks critical, but did anybody force you into 
it? Have you been ordered to confront and fight ten thousand 
men, with three thousand men? The government cannot make 
men; and it is very easy, when a man has been given the highest 
commission, for him to turn on those who gave it and vilify 
them for not giving him a command according to his rank. 

My appointment of you first as a Brigadier, and then as a 
Major General, was evidence of my appreciation of your service; 
and I have not since marked but one thing in connection with 
you, with which to be dissatisfied. The sending a military order 
twenty-five miles outside of your lines, and all military lines, to 
take men charged with no offence against the military, out of the 
hands of the courts, to be turned over to a mob to be hanged, 
can find no precedent or principle to justify it. Judge Lynch 
sometimes takes jurisdiction of cases which prove too strong for 
the courts ; but this is the first case within my knowledge, wherein 
the court being able to maintain jurisdiction against Judge 
Lynch, the military has come to the assistance of the latter. I 
take the facts of this case as you state them yourself, and not from 
any report of Governor Carney, or other person. 1 Yours truly 

Letter to James C. Conkling, to be read to a Union mass meeting in 
Lincoln's home. 

26th August 1863. 

My dear Sir: Your letter inviting me to attend a mass-meeting 
of unconditional Union-men, to be held at the capital of Illinois, 
on the 3rd day of September, has been received. 

1 Blunt was relieved of his command on 9th October 1863. 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 251 

It would be very agreeable to me, to thus meet my old friends, 
at my own home; but I cannot, just now, be absent from here, so 
long as a visit there, would require. 

The meeting is to be of all those who maintain unconditional 
devotion to the Union; and I am sure my old political friends 
will thank me for tendering, as I do, the nation's gratitude to 
those other noble men, whom no partisan malice, or partisan 
hope, can make false to the nation's life. 

There are those who are dissatisfied with me. To such I 
would say: You desire peace; and you blame me that we do not 
have it. But how can we attain it? There are but three con- 
ceivable ways. First, to suppress the rebellion by force of arms. 
This I am trying to do. Are you for it? If you are, so far we 
are agreed. If you are not for it, a second way is to give up the 
Union. I am against this. Are you for it? If you are, you 
should say so plainly. If you are not for force, nor yet for 
dissolution, there only remains some imaginable compromise. I 
do not believe any compromise, embracing the maintenance of 
the Union, is now possible. All I learn leads to a directly oppo- 
site belief. The strength of the rebellion is its military — its 
army. That army dominates all the country, and all the people, 
within its range. Any offer of terms made by any man or men 
within that range, in opposition to that army, is simply nothing 
for the present ; because such man or men, have no power what- 
ever to enforce their side of a compromise, if one were made 
with them. To illustrate — Suppose refugees from the South, 
and peace men of the North, get together in convention, and 
frame and proclaim a compromise embracing a restoration of 
the Union; in what way can that compromise be used to keep 
Lee's army out of Pennsylvania? Meade's army can keep Lee's 
army out of Pennsylvania ; and, I think, can ultimately drive it 
out of existence. But no paper compromise, to which the 
controllers of Lee's army are not agreed, can, at all, affect that 
army. In an effort at such compromise we should waste time, 
which the enemy would improve to our disadvantage; and that 
would be all. A compromise, to be effective, must be made 
either with those who control the rebel army, or with the people 
first liberated from the domination of that army, by the success 
of our own army. Now allow me to assure you, that no word 
or intimation, from that rebel army, or from any of the men 


controlling it, in relation to any peace compromise, has ever 
come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and insinuations 
to the contrary are deceptive and groundless. And I promise 
you, that if any such proposition shall hereafter come, it shall 
not be rejected, and kept a secret from you. I freely acknow- 
ledge myself the servant of the people, according to the bond of 
service — the United States Constitution; and that, as such, I am 
responsible to them. 

But, to be plain, you are dissatisfied with me about the Negro. 
Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between you and 
myself upon that subject. I certainly wish that all men could be 
free, while I suppose you do not. Yet I have neither adopted nor 
proposed any measure which is not consistent with even your 
view, provided you are for the Union. I suggested compensated 
emancipation; to which you replied you wished not to be taxed 
to buy Negroes. But I had not asked you to be taxed to buy 
Negroes, except in such way as to save you from greater taxation 
to save the Union exclusively by other means. 

You dislike the emancipation proclamation; and, perhaps, 
would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional — I think 
differently. I think the Constitution invests its Commander-in- 
Chief with the law of war, in time of war. The most that can be 
said, if so much, is, that slaves are property. Is there — has there 
ever been — any question that by the law of war, property, both 
of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed? And is it 
not needed whenever taking it helps us, or hurts the enemy? 
Armies, the world over, destroy enemies' property when they 
cannot use it; and even destroy their own to keep it from the 
enemy. Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help 
themselves, or hurt the enemy, except a few things regarded as 
barbarous or cruel. Among the exceptions are the massacre of 
vanquished foes and non-combatants, male and female. 

But the proclamation, as law, either is valid, or is not valid. 
If it is not valid, it needs no retraction. If it is valid, it cannot be 
retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life. Some 
of you profess to think its retraction would operate favourably 
for the Union. Why better after the retraction, than before the 
issue ? There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress 
the rebellion before the proclamation issued, the last one hundred 
days of which passed under an explicit notice that it was coming, 


unless averted by those in revolt returning to their allegiance. 
The war has certainly progressed as favourably for us since the 
issue of the proclamation as before. I know as fully as one can 
know the opinions of others, that some of the commanders of 
our armies in the field who have given us our most important 
successes, believe the emancipation policy, and the use of 
coloured troops, constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the 
rebellion; and that at least one of those important successes, 
could not have been achieved when it was, but for the aid of black 
soldiers. Among the commanders holding these views are some 
who have never had any affinity with what is called abolitionism, 
or with Republican party politics ; but who hold them purely as 
military opinions. I submit these opinions as being entitled to 
some weight against the objections, often urged, that emancipa- 
tion, and arming the blacks, are unwise as military measures, and 
were not adopted, as such, in good faith. 

You say you will not fight to free Negroes. Some of them 
seem willing to fight for you; but no matter. Fight you, then, 
exclusively to save the Union. I issued the proclamation on 
purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall 
have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you to 
continue fighting, it will be an apt time, then, for you to declare 
you will not fight to free Negroes. 

I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever 
extent the Negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that 
extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you. Do you 
think differently? I thought that whatever Negroes can be got 
to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do, 
in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But 
Negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they 
do anything for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake 
their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive 
— even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, 
must be kept. 

The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes 
unvexed to the sea. Thanks to the great North-west for it. 
Nor yet wholly to them. Three hundred miles up, they met 
New-England, Empire, Key-stone, and Jersey, hewing their way 
right and left. The Sunny South too, in more colours than one, 
also lent a hand. On the spot, their part of the history was 

254 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

jotted down in black and white. The job was a great national 
one; and let none be banned who bore an honourable part in it. 
And while those who have cleared the great river may well be 
proud, even that is not all. It is hard to say that anything has 
been more bravely, and well done, than at Antietam, Murfrees- 
boro, Gettysburg, and on many fields of lesser note. Nor must 
Uncle Sam's web-feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins 
they have been present. Not only on the deep sea, the broad 
bay, and the rapid river, but also up the narrow muddy bayou, 
and wherever the ground was a little damp, they have been, and 
made their tracks. Thanks to all. For the great republic — for 
the principle it lives by, and keeps alive — for man's vast future — 
thanks to all. 

Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come 
soon, and come to stay ; and so come as to be worth the keeping 
in all future time. It will then have been proved that among 
free men, there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the 
bullet; and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their 
case, and pay the cost. And then there will be some black men 
who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, 
and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have helped man- 
kind on to this great consummation; while, I fear, there will be 
some white ones unable to forget that, with malignant heart, and 
deceitful speech, they have strove to hinder it. 

Still let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy final triumph. 
Let us be quite sober. Let us diligently apply the means, never 
doubting that a just God, in his own good time, will give us the 
rightful result. Yours very truly 

Letter to Henry W. Halleck, General-in-Chief of the Army. 

19th September 1863. 

By Gen. Meade's dispatch to you of yesterday it appears that 
he desires your views and those of the government, as to whether 
he shall advance upon the enemy. I am not prepared to order, 
or even advise an advance in this case, wherein I know so little 
of particulars, and wherein he, in the field, thinks the risk is so 
great, and the promise of advantage so small. And yet the case 
presents matter for very serious consideration in another aspect. 


These two armies confront each other across a small river, 
substantially midway between the two capitals, each defending 
its own capital, and menacing the other. Gen. Meade estimates 
the enemy's infantry in front of him at not less than forty 
thousand. Suppose we add 50 per cent to this, for cavalry, 
artillery, and extra duty men stretching as far as Richmond, 
making the whole force of the enemy sixty thousand. Gen. 
Meade, as shown by the returns, has with him, and between him 
and Washington, of the same classes of well men, over ninety 
thousand. Neither can bring the whole of his men into a battle; 
but each can bring as large a percentage in as the other. For a 
battle, then, Gen. Meade has three men to Gen. Lee's two. Yet, 
it having been determined that choosing ground, and standing on 
the defensive, gives so great advantage that the three cannot 
safely attack the two, the three are left simply standing on the 
defensive also. If the enemy's sixty thousand are sufficient to 
keep our ninety thousand away from Richmond, why, by the 
same rule, may not forty thousand of ours keep their sixty thou- 
sand away from Washington, leaving us fifty thousand to put 
to some other use? Having practically come to the mere 
defensive, it seems to be no economy at all to employ twice as 
many men for that object as are needed. With no object, 
certainly, to mislead myself, I can perceive no fault in this state- 
ment, unless we admit we are not the equal of the enemy man for 
man. I hope you will consider it. 

To avoid misunderstanding, let me say that to attempt to fight 
the enemy slowly back into his intrenchments at Richmond, and 
there to capture him, is an idea I have been trying to repudiate 
for quite a year. My judgment is so clear against it that I would 
scarcely allow the attempt to be made, if the general in command 
should desire to make it. My last attempt upon Richmond was 
to get McClellan, when he was nearer there than the enemy was, 
to run in ahead of him. Since then I have constantly desired the 
Army of the Potomac to make Lee's army, and not Richmond, 
its objective point. If our army cannot fall upon the enemy and 
hurt him where he is, it is plain to me it can gain nothing by 
attempting to follow him over a succession of intrenched lines 
into a fortified city. Yours truly 


Proclamation of Thanksgiving. 

3rd October 1863. 

By the President of the United States of America. 
A Proclamation. 

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with 
the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these 
bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to 
forget the source from which they come, others have been added, 
which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to 
penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible 
to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst 
of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has 
sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke 
their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order 
has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, 
and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of 
military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted 
by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful 
diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful 
industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plow, the 
shuttle, or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our 
settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the 
precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than hereto- 
fore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the 
waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle- 
field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of aug- 
mented strength and vigour, is permitted to expect continuance 
of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel 
hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great 
things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, 
while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless 
remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they 
should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as 
with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I 
do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United 
States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourn- 
ing in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of 
November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our 


beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recom- 
mend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to 
Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, 
with humble penitence for our national perverseness and dis- 
obedience, commend to His tender care all those who have 
become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable 
civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently 
implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the 
wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be con- 
sistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, 
harmony, tranquillity, and Union. 

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused 
the Seal of the United States to be affixed. 

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of 

October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight 

hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the 

United States the Eighty-eighth. 

By the President: Abraham Lincoln. 

William H. Seward, Secretary of State. 

Letter to Captain James M. Cutts, Jr., who had been court- 
martialed for surrepetitiously watching a lady undress, and for 
using unbecoming language to fellow-officers. 

26th October 1863. 

Although what I am now to say is to be, in form, a reprimand, 
it is not intended to add a pang to what you have already suffered 
upon the subject to which it relates. You have too much of life 
yet before you, and have shown too much of promise as an 
officer, for your future to be lightly surrendered. You were 
convicted of two offences. One of them, not of great enormity, 
and yet greatly to be avoided, I feel sure you are in no danger of 
repeating. 1 The other you are not so well assured against. The 
advice of a father to his son 'Beware of entrance to a quarrel, 

1 Privately, Lincoln had quipped that Cutts should be 'elevated to the 
peerage' with the title of Count Peeper — a play upon the name of the 
Swedish Minister, Edward Count Piper. 


but being in, bear it that the opposed may beware of thee,' is 
good, and yet not the best. Quarrel not at all. No man 
resolved to make the most of himself, can spare time for personal 
contention. Still less can he afford to take all the consequences, 
including the vitiating of his temper, and the loss of self-control. 
Yield larger things to which you can show no more than equal 
rights; and yield lesser ones, though clearly your own. Better 
give your path to a dog, than be bitten by him in contesting for 
the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite. 

In the mood indicated deal henceforth with your fellow men, 
and especially with your brother officers ; and even the unpleasant 
events you are passing from will not have been profitless to you. 

Letter to James H. Hackett, who had apologized for allowing a 
letter of Lincoln's to be published. 

2nd November 1863. 

My dear Sir: Yours of 22nd October is received, as also was, 
in due course, that of 3rd October. I look forward with pleasure 
to the fulfilment of the promise made in the former. 

Give yourself no uneasiness on the subject mentioned in that 
of the 22nd. 

My note to you I certainly did not expect to see In print; yet I 
have not been much shocked by the newspaper comments upon 
it. Those comments constitute a fair specimen of what has 
occurred to me through life. I have endured a great deal of 
ridicule without much malice; and have received a great deal of 
kindness not quite free from ridicule. I am used to it. Yours 

Letter to Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War. 

11th November 1863. 

My dear Sir: I personally wish Jacob R. Freese, of New Jersey, 
to be appointed a Colonel for a coloured regiment — and this 
regardless of whether he can tell the exact shade of Julius Caesar's 
hair. Yours truly 


Address at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 

19th November 1863. 

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on 
this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated 
to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that 
nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long 
endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We 
have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting 
place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might 
live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do 

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot conse- 
crate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living 
and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our 
poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor 
long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what 
they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here 
to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far 
so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to 
the great task remaining before us — that from these honoured 
dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave 
the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve 
that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, 
under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that govern- 
ment of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish 
from the earth. 1 

1 There are five autograph copies of the Gettysburg Address in existence. 
Two were written before 19th November 1863, three afterward. On the 
assumption that the final copy represents the maturity of Lincoln's thought 
and expression, we have selected that for inclusion here. The manuscript, 
written some time after 4th March 1864, for reproduction in facsimile in 
a book entitled Autograph Leaves of Our Country's Authors, is now owned 
by Senor Oscar B. Cintas, of Havana, Cuba. (Senor Cintas died on 12th 
May 1957 as this book was being printed.) In this printing, the manuscript 
is reproduced with complete fidelity except for the omission of a heading, 
'Address delivered at the dedication of a Cemetery at Gettysburg,' a date 
line, 'November 19, 1863,' and the signature, 'Abraham Lincoln.' 


Letter to Edward Everett, who had made the principal address, 
lasting two hours, at Gettysburg. 

20th November 1863. 

My dear Sir: Your kind note of to-day is received. In our 
respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused to 
make a short address, nor 1 a long one. I am pleased to know 
that in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a 
failure. Of course I knew Mr Everett would not fail; and yet, 
while the whole discourse was eminently satisfactory, and will be 
of great value, there were passages in it which transcended my 
expectation. The point made against the theory of the general 
government being only an agency, whose principals are the 
states, was new to me, and, as I think, is one of the best arguments 
for the national supremacy. The tribute to our noble women for 
their angel-ministering to the suffering soldiers, surpasses, in its 
way, as do the subjects of it, whatever has gone before. 

Our sick boy, for whom you kindly inquire, we hope is past 
the worst. Your Obt. Servt. 

From the Annual Message to Congress. 

8th December 1863. 

. . . When Congress assembled a year ago the war had already 
lasted nearly twenty months, and there had been many conflicts 
on both land and sea, with varying results. 

The rebellion had been pressed back into reduced limits; yet 
the tone of public feeling and opinion, at home and abroad, was 
not satisfactory. With other signs, the popular elections, then 
just past, indicated uneasiness among ourselves, while amid much 
that was cold and menacing the kindest words coming from 
Europe were uttered in accents of pity, that we were too blind to 
surrender a hopeless cause. Our commerce was suffering greatly 
by a few armed vessels built upon and furnished from foreign 
shores, and we were threatened with such additions from the 
same quarter as would sweep our trade from the sea and raise 
our blockade. We had failed to elicit from European govern- 
ments anything hopeful upon this subject. The preliminary 
emancipation proclamation, issued in September, was running 
its assigned period to the beginning of the new year. A month 

Lincoln's speeches and letters 261 

later the final proclamation came, including the announcement 
that coloured men of suitable condition would be received into 
the war service. The policy of emancipation, and of employing 
black soldiers, gave to the future a new aspect, about which hope, 
and fear, and doubt contended in uncertain conflict. According 
to our political system, as a matter of civil administration, the 
general government had no lawful power to effect emancipation 
in any state, and for a long time it had been hoped that the 
rebellion could be suppressed without resorting to it as a military 
measure. It was all the while deemed possible that the necessity 
for it might come, and that if it should, the crisis of the contest 
would then be presented. It came, and as was anticipated, it 
was followed by dark and doubtful days. Eleven months having 
now passed, we are permitted to take another review. The rebel 
borders are pressed still further back, and by the complete 
opening of the Mississippi the country dominated by the rebellion 
is divided into distinct parts, with no practical communication 
between them. Tennessee and Arkansas have been substantially 
cleared of insurgent control, and influential citizens in each, 
owners of slaves and advocates of slavery at the beginning of the 
rebellion, now declare openly for emancipation in their respective 
states. Of those states not included in the emancipation pro- 
clamation, Maryland, and Missouri, neither of which three years 
ago would tolerate any restraint upon the extension of slavery 
into new territories, only dispute now as to the best mode of 
removing it within their own limits. 

Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion, full 
one hundred thousand are now in the United States military 
service, about one-half of which number actually bear arms in 
the ranks ; thus giving the double advantage of taking so much 
labour from the insurgent cause, and supplying the places which 
otherwise must be filled with so many white men. So far as 
tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good soldiers as any. 
No servile insurrection, or tendency to violence or cruelty, has 
marked the measures of emancipation and arming the blacks. 
These measures have been much discussed in foreign countries, 
and contemporary with such discussion the tone of public 
sentiment there is much improved. At home the same measures 
have been fully discussed, supported, criticized, and denounced, 
and the annual elections following are highly encouraging to 


those whose official duty it is to bear the country through this 
great trial. Thus we have the new reckoning. The crisis which 
threatened to divide the friends of the Union is past. . . . 

The movements, by state action, for emancipation in several of 
the states not included in the emancipation proclamation, are 
matters of profound gratulation. And while I do not repeat in 
detail what I have heretofore so earnestly urged upon this sub- 
ject, my general views and feelings remain unchanged; and I trust 
that Congress will omit no fair opportunity of aiding these 
important steps to a great consummation. 

In the midst of other cares, however important, we must not 
lose sight of the fact that the war power is still our main reliance. 
To that power alone can we look, yet for a time, to give confi- 
dence to the people in the contested regions, that the insurgent 
power will not again overrun them. Until that confidence shall 
be established, little can be done anywhere for what is called 
reconstruction. Hence our chiefest care must still be directed 
to the army and navy, who have thus far borne their harder part 
so nobly and well. And it may be esteemed fortunate that in 
giving the greatest efficiency to these indispensable arms, we do 
also honourably recognize the gallant men, from commander to 
sentinel, who compose them, and to whom, more than to others, 
the world must stand indebted for the home of freedom dis- 
enthralled, regenerated, enlarged, and perpetuated. 

Letter to Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War. 

1st March 1864. 

My dear Sir : A poor widow, by the name of Baird, has a son 
in the army, that for some offence has been sentenced to serve a 
long time without pay, or at most, with very little pay. I do not 
like this punishment of withholding pay — it falls so very hard 
upon poor families. After he has been serving in this way for 
several months, at the tearful appeal of the poor mother, I made 
a direction that he be allowed to enlist for a new turn, on the 
same conditions as others. She now comes, and says she cannot 
get it acted upon. Please do it. Yours truly 


Letter to John A. J. Creswell, Congressman from Maryland. 

7th March 1864. 

My dear Sir: I am very anxious for emancipation to be effected 
in Maryland in some substantial form. I think it probable that 
my expressions of a preference for gradual over immediate 
emancipation, are misunderstood. I had thought the gradual 
would produce less confusion, and destitution, and therefore 
would be more satisfactory ; but if those who are better acquain- 
ted with the subject, and are more deeply interested in it, prefer 
the immediate, most certainly I have no objection to their judg- 
ment prevailing. My wish is that all who are for emancipation 
in any form, shall co-operate, all treating all respectfully, and all 
adopting and acting upon the major opinion, when fairly 
ascertained. What I have dreaded is the danger that by jealousies, 
rivalries, and consequent ill-blood — driving one another out of 
meetings and conventions — perchance from the polls — the 
friends of emancipation themselves may divide, and lose the 
measure altogether. I wish this letter to not be made public; 
but no man representing me as I herein represent myself, will be 
in any danger of contradiction by me. Yours truly 

Speech to General Ulysses S. Grant. rt , m _ , 

* 9th March 1864. 

The nation's appreciation of what you have done, and its 
reliance upon you for what remains to do, in the existing great 
struggle, are now presented with this commission, constituting 
you Lieutenant-General in the Army of the United States. With 
this high honour devolves upon you also, a corresponding re- 
sponsibility. As the country herein trusts you, so, under God, it 
will sustain you. I scarcely need to add that with what I here 
speak for the nation goes my own hearty personal concurrence. 

Letter to Albert G. Hodges, editor of the Frankfort, Kentucky, 

'Commonwealth* . , .,««>,. 

4th April 1864. 

My dear Sir: You ask me to put in writing the substance of 
what I verbally said the other day, in your presence, to Governor 
Bramlette and Senator Dixon. It was about as follows: 

264 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

'I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing 
is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think, and feel. 
And yet I have never understood that the presidency conferred 
upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment 
and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I would, to the best 
of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of 
the United States. I could not take the office without taking 
the oath. Nor was it my view that I might take an oath to get 
power, and break the oath in using the power. I understood, 
too, that in ordinary civil administration this oath even forbade 
me to practically indulge my primary abstract judgment on the 
moral question of slavery. I had publicly declared this many 
times, and in many ways. And I aver that, to this day, I have 
done no official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and 
feeling on slavery. I did understand, however, that my oath to 
preserve the Constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon 
me the duty of preserving, by every indispensable means, that 
government — that nation — of which that Constitution was the 
organic law. Was it possible to lose the nation, and yet preserve 
the Constitution? By general law life and limb must be pro- 
tected; yet often a limb must be amputated to save a life; but a life 
is never wisely given to save a limb. I felt that measures, other- 
wise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indis- 
pensable to the preservation of the Constitution, through the 
preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I assumed this 
ground, and now avow it. I could not feel that, to the best of 
my ability, I had even tried to preserve the Constitution, if, to 
save slavery, or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of 
government, country, and Constitution all together. When, 
early in the war, Gen. Fremont attempted military emancipation, 
I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable 
necessity. When a little later, Gen. Cameron, then Secretary of 
War, suggested the arming of the blacks, I objected, because I did 
not yet think it an indispensable necessity. When, still later, 
Gen. Hunter attempted military emancipation, I again forbade it, 
because I did not yet think the indispensable necessity had come. 
When, in March, and May, and July 1862 I made earnest, and 
successive appeals to the border states to favour compensated 
emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for military 
emancipation and arming the blacks would come, unless averted 


by that measure. They declined the proposition; and I was, in 
my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering 
the Union, and with it, the Constitution, or of laying strong 
hand upon the coloured element. I chose the latter. In choos- 
ing it, I hoped for greater gain than loss ; but of this, I was not 
entirely confident. More than a year of trial now shows no loss 
by it in our foreign relations, none in our home popular senti- 
ment, none in our white military force — no loss by it any how or 
any where. On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite a hundred 
and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and labourers. These are 
palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no cavilling. 
We have the men; and we could not have had them without the 

'And now let any Union man who complains of the measure, 
test himself by writing down in one line that he is for subduing 
the rebellion by force of arms; and in the next, that he is for 
taking these hundred and thirty thousand men from the Union 
side, and placing them where they would be but for the measure 
he condemns. If he cannot face his case so stated, it is only 
because he cannot face the truth.' 

I add a word which was not in the verbal conversation. In 
telling this tale I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I 
claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that 
events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years 
struggle the nation's condition is not what either party, or any 
man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it 
is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great 
wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the 
South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial 
history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice 
and goodness of God. Yours truly 

Address at Sanitary Fair, 1 Baltimore. „„ , 

18th April 1864. 

Ladies and Gentlemen : Calling to mind that we are in Balti- 
more, we cannot fail to note that the world moves. Looking 
upon these many people, assembled here, to serve, as they best 

1 The United States Sanitary Commission was the Civil War counterpart 
of the Red Cross. To finance its activities it held 'sanitary fairs' in the 
larger cities of the country. 


may, the soldiers of the Union, it occurs at once that three years 
ago, the same soldiers could not so much as pass through Balti- 
more. The change from then till now is both great and gratify- 
ing. Blessings on the brave men who have wrought the change, 
and the fair women who strive to reward them for it. 

But Baltimore suggests more than could happen within Balti- 
more. The change within Baltimore is part only of a far wider 
change. When the war began, three years ago, neither party, 
nor any man, expected it would last till now. Each looked for 
the end, in some way, long ere to-day. Neither did any antici- 
pate that domestic slavery would be much affected by the war. 
But here we are; the war has not ended, and slavery has been 
much affected — how much needs not now to be recounted. So 
true is it that man proposes, and God disposes. 

But we can see the past, though we may not claim to have 
directed it; and seeing it, in this case, we feel more hopeful and 
confident for the future. 

The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, 
and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. 
We all declare for liberty ; but in using the same word we do not 
all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean 
for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of 
his labour; while with others the same word may mean for some 
men to do as they please with other men, and the product of 
other men's labour. Here are two, not only different, but 
incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it 
follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, 
called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and 

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for 
which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf 
denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, 
especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and 
the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; 
and precisely the same difference prevails to-day among us 
human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love 
liberty. Hence we behold the processes by which thousands are 
daily passing from under the yoke of bondage, hailed by some 
as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruc- 
tion of all liberty. Recently, as it seems, the people of Maryland 


have been doing something to define liberty ; and thanks to them 
that, in what they have done, the wolf's dictionary has been 

Letter to William Dennison and others, accepting nomination for 

the Presidency. __ , _ .___ 

7 27th June 1864. 

Hon. William Dennison and others, a Committee of the 
National Union Convention. 1 

Gentlemen: Your letter of the 14th inst. formally notifying me 
that I have been nominated by the convention you represent for 
the Presidency of the United States for four years from the fourth 
of March next has been received. The nomination is gratefully 
accepted, as the resolutions of the convention, called the plat- 
form, are heartily approved. 

While the resolution in regard to the supplanting of republican 
government upon the western continent is fully concurred in, 
there might be misunderstanding were I not to say that the 
position of the government, in relation to the action of France 
in Mexico, as assumed through the State Department, and 
approved and indorsed by the convention, among the measures 
and acts of the Executive, will be faithfully maintained, so long as 
the state of facts shall leave that position pertinent and applicable. 

I am especially gratified that the soldier and the seaman were 
not forgotten by the convention, as they forever must and will be 
remembered by the grateful country for whose salvation they 
devote their lives. 

Thanking you for the kind and complimentary terms in which 
you have communicated the nomination and other proceedings 
of the convention, I subscribe myself Your Obt. Servt. 

Telegram to General Ulysses S. Grant, besieging Richmond. 

17th August 1864. 

I have seen your dispatch expressing your unwillingness to 
break your hold where you are. Neither am I willing. Hold on 
with a bulldog grip, and chew and choke, as much as possible. 

1 Technically, Lincoln was nominated in 1864 by the National Union 
Party, an amalgam of Republicans, who constituted the great majority, 
and Democrats who supported the war without reservations. 


Speech to the 166th Ohio Regiment. 

22nd August 1864. 

I suppose you are going home to see your families and friends. 
For the service you have done in this great struggle in which we 
are engaged I present you sincere thanks for myself and the 
country. I almost always feel inclined, when I happen to say 
anything to soldiers, to impress upon them in a few brief remarks 
the importance of success in this contest. It is not merely for 
to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our 
children's children this great and free government, which we have 
enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely 
for my sake, but for yours. I happen temporarily to occupy this 
big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your 
children may look to come here as my father's child has. It is in 
order that each of you may have through this free government 
which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your 
industry, enterprise, and intelligence; that you may all have equal 
privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspira- 
tions. It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we 
may not lose our birthright — not only for one, but for two or 
three years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an 
inestimable jewel. 

Memorandum on the President's duty if not re-elected. 

23rd August 1864. 

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly 
probable that this administration will not be re-elected. Then it 
will be my duty to so co-operate with the President-elect, as to 
save the Union between the election and the inauguration ; as he 
will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot 
possibly save it afterwards. 1 

1 After writing this paper Lincoln folded it and asked each member of 
his Cabinet to write his name, by way of endorsement, on an outside fold. 
All complied. On 11th November 1864, three days after his re-election, 
Lincoln showed the members of his Cabinet what they had signed. 


Letter to Eliza P. Gurney, member of the Society of Friends. 

4th September 1864. 

My esteemed friend: I have not forgotten — probably never 
shall forget — the very impressive occasion when yourself and 
friends visited me on a Sabbath forenoon two years ago. Nor 
has your kind letter, written nearly a year later, ever been for- 
gotten. In all, it has been your purpose to strengthen my reli- 
ance on God. I am much indebted to the good Christian people 
of the country for their constant prayers and consolations ; and 
to no one of them, more than to yourself. The purposes of the 
Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals 
may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for 
a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but 
God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknow- 
ledge His wisdom and our own error therein. Meanwhile we 
must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so 
working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely 
He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, 
which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay. 

Your people — the Friends — have had, and are having, a very 
great trial. On principle, and faith, opposed to both war and 
oppression, they can only practically oppose oppression by war. 
In this hard dilemma, some have chosen one horn and some the 
other. For those appealing to me on conscientious grounds, I 
have done, and shall do, the best I could and can, in my own 
conscience, under my oath to the law. That you believe this I 
doubt not; and believing it, I shall still receive, for our country 
and myself, your earnest prayers to our Father in Heaven. 
Your sincere friend 

Response to a serenade, two days after the President's re-election. 

10th November 1864. 

It has long been a grave question whether any government, not 
too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to 
maintain its own existence, in great emergencies. 

On this point the present rebellion brought our republic to a 
severe test; and a presidential election occurring in regular course 


during the rebellion added not a little to the strain. If the loyal 
people, united, were put to the utmost of their strength by the 
rebellion, must they not fail when divided, and partially paralysed, 
by a political war among themselves? 

But the election was a necessity. 

We cannot have free government without elections ; and if the 
rebellion could force us to forgo, or postpone a national election, 
it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. 
The strife of the election is but human nature practically applied 
to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case, must ever 
recur in similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any 
future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we 
shall have as weak and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and 
good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy 
to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be 

But the election, along with its incidental and undesirable 
strife, has done good too. It has demonstrated that a people's 
government can sustain a national election, in the midst of a 
great civil war. Until now it has not been known to the world 
that this was a possibility. It shows also how sound, and how 
strong we still are. It shows that, even among candidates of the 
same party, he who is most devoted to the Union, and most 
opposed to treason, can receive most of the people's votes. It 
shows also, to the extent yet known, that we have more men now 
than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place; 
but living, brave, patriotic men, are better than gold. 

But the rebellion continues ; and now that the election is over, 
may not all, having a common interest, reunite in a common 
effort to save our common country? For my own part I have 
striven, and shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. 
So long as I have been here I have not willingly planted a thorn 
in any man's bosom. 

While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re- 
election, and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for 
having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, 
for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any 
other man may be disappointed or painted by the result. 

May I ask those who have not differed with me, to join with 
me, in this same spirit towards those who have? 


And now, let me close by asking three hearty cheers for our 
brave soldiers and seamen and their gallant and skilful com- 

Letter to Mrs Lydia Bixby. 1 

21st November 1864. 

Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files of the War 
Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massa- 
chusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died 
gloriously on the field of battle. 

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which 
should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so over- 
whelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the 
consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic 
they died to save. 

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of 
your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of 
the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to 
have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom. Yours, 
very sincerely and respectfully 

From the Annual Message to Congress. 

6th December 1864. 

. . . The war continues. Since the last annual message all the 
important lines and positions then occupied by our forces have 
been maintained, and our arms have steadily advanced; thus 
liberating the regions left in rear, so that Missouri, Kentucky, 

1 Lincoln wrote this letter upon an inaccurate representation of fact. 
Only two of Mrs Bixby's sons were killed in action. A third is reported 
(1) to have deserted to the enemy, and (2) to have died in a Confederate 
war prison. A fourth son was undoubtedly a deserter. The fifth and last 
son was awarded an honourable discharge. 

While the many facsimiles of the Bixby letter are all fabrications of one 
or two clever penmen, there is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the 
text. Moreover, in the opinion of the editor of this book, there is no 
justification for attributing the authorship of the letter to John Hay, as a 
few students have attempted to do, instead of to Lincoln. 

Despite the chipping that the factual foundation of the Bixby letter has 
been subjected to, it remains one of the noblest expressions of condolence 
in the world's literature. 


Tennessee, and parts of other states have again produced reason- 
ably fair crops. 

The most remarkable feature in the military operations of the 
year is General Sherman's attempted march of three hundred 
miles directly through the insurgent region. It tends to show a 
great increase of our relative strength that our General-in-Chief 
should feel able to confront and hold in check every active force 
of the enemy, and yet to detach a well-appointed large army to 
move on such an expedition. The result not yet being known, 
conjecture in regard to it is not here indulged. 1 

Important movements have also occurred during the year to 
the effect of moulding society for durability in the Union. 
Although short of complete success, it is much in the right 
direction, that twelve thousand citizens in each of the states of 
Arkansas and Louisiana have organized loyal state governments 
with free constitutions, and are earnestly struggling to maintain 
and administer them. The movements in the same direction, 
more extensive though less definite in Missouri, Kentucky, and 
Tennessee, should not be overlooked. But Maryland presents 
the example of complete success. Maryland is secure to Liberty 
and Union for all the future. The genius of rebellion will no 
more claim Maryland. Like another foul spirit, being driven 
out, it may seek to tear her, but it will woo her no more. 

At the last session of Congress a proposed amendment of the 
Constitution abolishing slavery throughout the United States, 2 
passed the Senate, but failed for lack of the requisite two-thirds 
vote in the House of Representatives. Although the present is 
the same Congress, and nearly the same members, and without 
questioning the wisdom or patriotism of those who stood in 
opposition, I venture to recommend the reconsideration and 
passage of the measure at the present session. Of course the 
abstract question is not changed; but an intervening election 
shows, almost certainly, that the next Congress will pass the 
measure if this does not. Hence there is only a question of time 
as to when the proposed amendment will go to the states for their 
action. And as it is to so go, at all events, may we not agree 

1 Sherman had started from Atlanta on his famous 'march to the sea' 
on 16th November 1864. 

2 The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified 18th December 


that the sooner the better? It is not claimed that the election 
has imposed a duty on members to change their views or their 
votes, any further than, as an additional element to be con- 
sidered, their judgment may be affected by it. It is the voice 
of the people now, for the first time, heard upon the question. 
In a great national crisis like ours, unanimity of action among 
those seeking a common end is very desirable — almost indispen- 
sable. And yet no approach to such unanimity is attainable, 
unless some deference shall be paid to the will of the majority, 
simply because it is the will of the majority. In this case the 
common end is the maintenance of the Union; and among the 
means to secure that end, such will, through the election, is most 
clearly declared in favour of such constitutional amendment. 

The most reliable indication of public purpose in this country 
is derived through our popular elections. Judging by the recent 
canvass and its result, the purpose of the people, within the loyal 
states, to maintain the integrity of the Union, was never more 
firm, nor more nearly unanimous, than now. The extraordinary 
calmness and good order with which the millions of voters met 
and mingled at the polls, give strong assurance of this. Not only 
all those who supported the Union ticket, so called, but a great 
majority of the opposing party also, may be fairly claimed to 
entertain, and to be actuated by, the same purpose. It is an 
unanswerable argument to this effect, that no candidate for any 
office whatever, high or low, has ventured to seek votes on the 
avowal that he was for giving up the Union. There have been 
much impugning of motives, and much heated controversy as to 
the proper means and best mode of advancing the Union cause; 
but on the distinct issue of Union or no Union, the politicians 
have shown their instinctive knowledge that there is no diversity 
among the people. In affording the people the fair opportunity 
of showing, one to another and to the world, this firmness and 
unanimity of purpose, the election has been of vast value to the 
national cause. 

The election has exhibited another fact not less valuable to be 
known — the fact that we do not approach exhaustion in the most 
important branch of national resources — that of living men. 
While it is melancholy to reflect that the war has filled so many 
graves, and carried mourning to so many hearts, it is some relief 
to know that, compared with the surviving, the fallen have been 



so few. While corps, and divisions, and brigades, and regiments 
have formed, and fought, and dwindled, and gone out of existence, 
a great majority of the men who composed them are still living. 
The same is true of the naval service. The election returns prove 
this. So many voters could not else be found. The states 
regularly holding elections, both now and four years ago, to wit, 
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, 
Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minne- 
sota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, 
Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, 
and Wisconsin cast 3,982,01 1 votes now, against 3,870,222 cast 
then, showing an aggregate now of 3,982,011. To this is to be 
added 33,762 cast now in the new states of Kansas and Nevada, 
which states did not vote in 1860, thus swelling the aggregate to 
4,015,773 and the net increase during the three years and a half 
of war to 145,551. A table is appended showing particulars. 
To this again should be added the number of all soldiers in the 
field from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, 
Indiana, Illinois, and California, who, by the laws of those states, 
could not vote away from their homes, and which number 
cannot be less than 90,000. Nor yet is this all. The number in 
organized territories is triple now what it was four years ago, 
while thousands, white and black, join us as the national arms 
press back the insurgent lines. So much is shown, affirmatively 
and negatively, by the election. It is not material to inquire 
how the increase has been produced, or to show that it would have 
been greater but for the war, which is probably true. The 
important fact remains demonstrated, that we have more men 
now than we had when the war began ; that we are not exhausted, 
nor in process of exhaustion; that we are gaming strength, and 
may, if need be, maintain the contest indefinitely. This as to 
men. Material resources are now more complete and abundant 
than ever. 

The national resources, then, are unexhausted, and, as we 
believe, inexhaustible. The public purpose to re-establish and 
maintain the national authority is unchanged, and, as we believe, 
unchangeable. The manner of continuing the effort remains to 
choose. On careful consideration of all the evidence accessible 
it seems to me that no attempt at negotiation with the insurgent 
leader could result in any good. He would accept nothing short 


of severance of the Union — precisely what we will not and 
cannot give. His declarations to this effect are explicit and oft- 
repeated. He does not attempt to deceive us. He affords us no 
excuse to deceive ourselves. He cannot voluntarily reaccept the 
Union; we cannot voluntarily yield it. Between him and us the 
issue is distinct, simple, and inflexible. It is an issue which can 
only be tried by war and decided by victory. If we yield, we are 
beaten ; if the southern people fail him, he is beaten. Either way, 
it would be the victory and defeat following war. What is true, 
however, of him who heads the insurgent cause, is not necessarily 
true of those who follow. Although he cannot reaccept the 
Union, they can. Some of them, we know, already desire peace 
and reunion. The number of such may increase. They can, 
at any moment, have peace simply by laying down their arms and 
submitting to the national authority under the Constitution. 
After so much, the government could not, if it would, maintain 
war against them. The loyal people would not sustain or allow 
it. If questions should remain, we would adjust them by the 
peaceful means of legislation, conference, courts, and votes, 
operating only in constitutional and lawful channels. Some 
certain, and other possible, questions are, and would be, beyond 
the executive power to adjust; as, for instance, the admission of 
members into Congress, and whatever might require the appro- 
priation of money. The executive power itself would be greatly 
diminished by the cessation of actual war. Pardons and remis- 
sions of forfeitures, however, would still be within executive 
control. In what spirit and temper this control would be 
exercised can be fairly judged of by the past. 

A year ago general pardon and amnesty, upon specified terms, 
were offered to all, except certain designated classes; and it was, 
at the same time, made known that the excepted classes were still 
within contemplation of special clemency. During the year 
many availed themselves of the general provision, and many 
more would, only that the signs of bad faith in some led to such 
precautionary measures as rendered the practical process less 
easy and certain. During the same time also special pardons 
have been granted to individuals of the excepted classes, and no 
voluntary application has been denied. Thus practically, the 
door has been, for a full year, open to all, except such as were 
not in condition to make free choice — that is, such as were in 


custody or under constraint. It is still so open to all. But the 
time may come — probably will come — when public duty shall 
demand that it be closed; and that, in lieu, more rigorous 
measures than heretofore shall be adopted. 

In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the 
national authority on the part of the insurgents, as the only 
indispensable condition to ending the war on the part of the 
government, I retract nothing heretofore said as to slavery. I 
repeat the declaration made a year ago, that 'while I remain in 
my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the 
emancipation proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any per- 
son who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of 
the Acts of Congress.' If the people should, by whatever mode 
or means, make it an executive duty to re-enslave such persons, 
another, and not I, must be their instrument to perform it. 

In stating a single condition of peace, I mean simply to say 
that the war will cease on the part of the government, whenever it 
shall have ceased on the part of those who began it. 

Story written for Noah Brooks, correspondent of the Sacramento, 
California, ' Union.'' 

[6th December 1864.] 


On Thursday of last week two ladies from Tennessee came 
before the President asking the release of their husbands held as 
prisoners of war at Johnson's Island. They were put off till 
Friday, when they came again; and were again put off to Satur- 
day. At each of the interviews one of the ladies urged that her 
husband was a religous man. On Saturday the President ordered 
the release of the prisoners, and then said to this lady: 'You say 
your husband is a religious man; tell him when you meet him, 
that I say I am not much of a judge of religion, but that, in my 
opinion, the religion that sets men to rebel and fight against their 
government, because, as they think, that government does not 
sufficiently help some men to eat their bread on the sweat of 
other men's faces, is not the sort of religion upon which people 
can get to heaven ! ' 


Letter to General William T. Sherman, who had just announced the 
capture of Savannah, Georgia. 

26th December 1864. 

My dear General Sherman: Many, many, thanks for your 
Christmas gift — the capture of Savannah. 

When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, 
I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better 
judge, and remembering that 'nothing risked, nothing gained' I 
did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the 
honour is all yours ; for I believe none of us went farther than to 
acquiesce. And, taking the work of Gen. Thomas into the 
count, 1 as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success. Not 
only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advan- 
tages; but, in showing to the world that your army could be 
divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, 
and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the 
whole — Hood's army — it brings those who sat in darkness, to 
see a great light. But what next? I suppose it will be safer if 
I leave Gen. Grant and yourself to decide. 

Please make my grateful acknowledgments to your whole army, 
officers and men. Yours very truly 

The Second Inaugural Address. 

4th March 1865. 

At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential 

office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there 

was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a 

course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the 

expiration of four years, during which public declarations have 

been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the 

great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the 

energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The 

progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as 

well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably 

satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the 

future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. 

1 Virginia-born George H. Thomas had literally smashed the last Con- 
federate resistance in the West at the Battle of Nashville (Tennessee) on 
15th-16th December 1864. 

278 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all 
thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. 
All dreaded it — all sought to avert it. While the inaugural 
address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether 
to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the 
city seeking to destroy it without war — seeking to dissolve the 
Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties depre- 
cated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the 
nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it 
perish. And the war came. 

One-eighth of the whole population were coloured slaves, not 
distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern 
part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful 
interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of 
the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest 
was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, 
even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more 
than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party 
expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it 
has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the 
conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should 
cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less 
fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and 
pray to the same God ; and each invokes His aid against the other. 
It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's 
assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's 
faces ; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers 
of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered 
fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. 'Woe unto the 
world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences 
come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!' If 
we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offences 
which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, 
having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to 
remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible 
war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we 
discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which 
the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly 
do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of 
war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, 


until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and 
fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop 
of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn 
with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it 
must be said ' the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous 

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in 
the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish 
the work we are in ; to bind up the nation's wounds ; to care for 
him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his 
orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a 
lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. 

Letter to Thurlow Weed, New York State Republican leader. 

15th March 1865. 

My dear Sir: Everyone likes a compliment. Thank you for 
yours on my little notification speech, and on the recent Inaugural 
Address. I expect the latter to wear as well as — perhaps better 
than — anything I have produced ; but I believe it is not immedi- 
ately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there 
has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. 
To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God 
governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be 
told; and as whatever of humiliation there is in it, falls most 
directly on myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell 
it. Yours truly 

Reply to a serenade the day after Lee's surrender. 

10th April 1865. 

Fellow-citizens: I am very greatly rejoiced to find that an 
occasion has occurred so pleasurable that the people cannot 
restrain themselves. I suppose that arrangements are being 
made for some sort of a formal demonstration, this, or perhaps, 
to-morrow night. If there should be such a demonstration, I, 
of course, will be called upon to respond, and I shall have nothing 
to say if you dribble it all out of me before. I see you have a 

280 Lincoln's speeches and letters 

band of music with you. I propose closing up this interview by 
the band performing a particular tune which I will name. Before 
this is done, however, I wish to mention one or two little circum- 
stances connected with it. I have always thought 'Dixie' one 
of the best tunes I have ever heard. 1 Our adversaries over the 
way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we 
fairly captured it. I presented the question to the Attorney 
General, and he gave it as his legal opinion that it is our lawful 
prize. I now request the band to favour me with its performance. 

Lincoln's last speech. 

11th April 1865. 

We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. 
The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender 
of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and 
speedy peace whose joyous expression cannot be restrained. In 
the midst of this, however, He, from Whom all blessings flow, 
must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is 
being prepared, and will be duly promulgated. Nor must those 
whose harder part gives us the cause of rejoicing be overlooked. 
Their honours must not be parcelled out with others. I myself, 
was near the front, and had the high pleasure of transmitting 
much of the good news to you ; but no part of the honour, for 
plan or execution, is mine. To Gen. Grant, his skilful officers, 
and brave men, all belongs. The gallant navy stood ready, but 
was not in reach to take active part. 

By these recent successes the reinauguration of the national 
authority — reconstruction — which has had a large share of 
thought from the first, is pressed much more closely upon our 
attention. It is fraught with great difficulty. Unlike the case 
of a war between independent nations, there is no authorized 
organ for us to treat with. No one man has authority to give up 
the rebellion for any other man. We simply must begin with, 
and mould from, disorganized and discordant elements. Nor is 

1 Lincoln first heard ' Dixie,' a minstrel tune written by Daniel D. 
Emmett of Mt Vernon, Ohio, in Chicago in March 1860. 'Lincoln was 
perfectly "taken" with it,' wrote Henry C. Whitney in Life on the Circuit 
with Lincoln, 'and clapped his great hands, demanding an encore, louder 
than anyone. I never saw him so enthusiastic.' 


it a small additional embarrassment that we, the loyal people, 
differ among ourselves as to the mode, manner, and means of 

As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of attacks 
upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I 
cannot properly offer an answer. In spite of this precaution, 
however, it comes to my knowledge that I am much censured for 
some supposed agency in setting up, and seeking to sustain, the 
new state government of Louisiana. In this I have done just so 
much as, and no more than, the public knows. In the Annual 
Message of December 1 863 and accompanying proclamation, I 
presented a plan of reconstruction (as the phrase goes) which, I 
promised, if adopted by any state, should be acceptable to, and 
sustained by, the executive government of the nation. I dis- 
tinctly stated that this was not the only plan which might possibly 
be acceptable; and I also distinctly protested that the Executive 
claimed no right to say when, or whether members should be 
admitted to seats in Congress from such states. This plan was, 
in advance, submitted to the then Cabinet, and distinctly 
approved by every member of it. One of them suggested that I 
should then, and in that connection, apply the Emancipation 
Proclamation to the theretofore excepted parts of Virginia and 
Louisiana; that I should drop the suggestion about apprentice- 
ship for freed-people, and that I should omit the protest against 
my own power, in regard to the admission of members to 
Congress; but even he approved every part and parcel of the 
plan which has since been employed or touched by the action of 
Louisiana. The new constitution of Louisiana, declaring eman- 
cipation for the whole state, practically applies the Proclamation 
to the part previously excepted. It does not adopt apprentice- 
ship for freed-people; and it is silent, as it could not well be 
otherwise, about the admission of members to Congress. So 
that, as it applies to Louisiana, every member of the Cabinet 
fully approved the plan. The message went to Congress, and I 
received many commendations of the plan, written and verbal ; 
and not a single objection to it, from any professed emancipa- 
tionist, came to my knowledge, until after the news reached 
Washington that the people of Louisiana had begun to move in 
accordance with it. From about July 1862, 1 had corresponded 
with different persons, supposed to be interested, seeking a 


reconstruction of a state government for Louisiana. When the 
message of 1863, with the plan before mentioned, reached New 
Orleans, Gen. Banks wrote me that he was confident the people, 
with his military co-operation, would reconstruct, substantially 
on that plan. I wrote him and some of them to try it; they tried 
it, and the result is known. Such only has been my agency in 
getting up the Louisiana government. As to sustaining it, my 
promise is out, as before stated. But, as bad promises are better 
broken than kept, I shall treat this as a bad promise, and break 
it, whenever I shall be convinced that keeping it is adverse to the 
public interest. But I have not yet been so convinced. 

I have been shown a letter on this subject, supposed to be an 
able one, in which the writer expresses regret that my mind has 
not seemed to be definitely fixed on the question whether the 
seceded states, so called, are in the Union or out of it. It would 
perhaps add astonishment to his regret, were he to learn that 
since I have found professed Union men endeavouring to make 
that question, I have purposely forborne any public expression 
upon it. As appears to me that question has not been, nor yet 
is, a practically material one, and that any discussion of it, while 
it thus remains practically immaterial, could have no effect 
other than the mischievous one of dividing our friends. As yet, 
whatever it may hereafter become, that question is bad, as the 
basis of a controversy, and good for nothing at all — a merely 
pernicious abstraction. 

We all agree that the seceded states, so called, are out of their 
proper practical relation with the Union ; and that the sole object 
of the government, civil and military, in regard to those states is 
to again get them into that proper practical relation. I believe it 
is not only possible, but in fact, easier, to do this, without 
deciding, or even considering, whether these states have ever 
been out of the Union, than with it. Finding themselves safely 
at home, it would be utterly immaterial whether they had ever 
been abroad. Let us all join in doing the acts necessary to restor- 
ing the proper practical relations between these states and the 
Union; and each for ever after, innocently indulge his own 
opinion whether, in doing the acts, he brought the states from 
without, into the Union, or only gave them proper assistance, 
they never having been out of it. 


An informal proclamation of peace, written on the last full day of 
the President's life. 

14th April 1865. 

No pass is necessary now to authorize anyone to go to and 
return from Petersburg and Richmond. People go and return 
just as they did before the war. 


1809, February 12. Abraham Lincoln, first son and second child of 

Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln, is born near Hodgen's Mill, 

now Hodgenville, Kentucky. 
1811, Spring. Thomas Lincoln moves his family to a farm of 230 acres 

on Knob Creek, about twelve miles north-east of the farm on 

which his son was born. 
1816, December. Thomas Lincoln and his family leave Kentucky to 

settle in Spencer County in south-western Indiana. 

1818, October 5. Nancy Hanks Lincoln dies of the milk sickness, 
an ailment common on the American frontier. 

1819, December 2. Thomas Lincoln marries Sarah Bush Johnston, a 
widow of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and brings her to the cabin 
in Indiana. 

1828, January 20. Sarah Lincoln Grigsby, older sister of Abraham 

Lincoln, dies in childbirth. 
1828, Spring. Young Lincoln, with Allen Gentry, takes a flatboat 

with farm produce to New Orleans. 

1830, March. The Lincoln family moves to Macon County, Illinois. 

1831, April- July. Abraham Lincoln makes his second flatboat trip 
to New Orleans. 

1831, July. Lincoln settles at New Salem, Illinois, twenty miles 
north-west of Springfield, and earns his living as a clerk and mill 

1832, April 21. Lincoln volunteers for service in the Black Hawk 
War and is elected captain of the local company. 

1832, July 18. Lincoln returns, unharmed, from the campaign. 

1832, August 6. Lincoln fails of election to the Illinois legislature, 
but receives 277 of the 300 votes cast in his own precinct. 

1833, Spring. Lincoln is appointed deputy surveyor of Sangamon 

1833, May 7. President Andrew Jackson appoints Lincoln post- 
master of New Salem. 

1834, August 4. Lincoln is elected a member of the Illinois House of 

1836, August 1. Lincoln is re-elected to the Illinois House. 

1837, February 28. Under Lincoln's management, the Illinois legis- 
lature transfers the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield. 

1837, March 1. Lincoln is granted a licence to practise law. 



1837, April 15. Lincoln moves from New Salem to Springfield and 
becomes the junior law partner of John T. Stuart. 

1838, August 6. Lincoln is elected to the Illinois legislature for the 
third time. 

1840, August 3. Lincoln is again elected to the legislature, but this 
will be his final term. 

1841, January 1. The engagement between Lincoln and Mary Todd 
is broken. 

1841, April. The partnership of Stuart and Lincoln is dissolved, and 
Lincoln becomes the junior partner of Stephen T. Logan. 

1842, September 19. James Shields challenges Lincoln to a duel. 
Three days later, on the duelling ground, the two men settle their 
differences amicably. 

1842, November 4. Lincoln and Mary Todd are married. 

1843, August 1. The first child of the Lincolns is born and named 
Robert Todd. 

1844, December. The Lincoln-Logan partnership is dissolved. 
Lincoln forms his own firm with William H. Herndon as his 

1846, March 10. Edward Baker Lincoln, second son, is born. 

1846, August 3. Lincoln, a Whig, is elected to the U.S. House of 
Representatives from the Seventh District of Illinois. 

1 847, December 3 . Lincoln takes his seat in the House at Washington. 

1849, March 4. Lincoln's one term as a member of Congress comes 
to an end. Disillusioned with politics, he returns to Springfield 
determined to practise law more assiduously than ever. 

1850, February 1. Edward Baker Lincoln, aged three years and ten 
months, dies after an illness of two weeks' duration. 

1850, December 21. William Wallace Lincoln, third son, is born. 

1853, April 4. Thomas Lincoln, fourth son and last child, is born. 

1854, May 30. President Franklin Pierce signs the Kansas-Nebraska 
Bill. Lincoln, aroused as never before, determines to re-enter 

1854, November 7. Lincoln is elected to the Illinois House of Repre- 

1854, November 27. Lincoln files notice that he will not accept 
election to the legislature. 

1855, February 8. The Illinois legislature comes within two votes of 
electing Lincoln to the U.S. Senate to succeed James Shields. 

1856, May 10. By signing the call for a state convention, Lincoln 
formally joins the Republican Party. 

1856, June 23. At Urbana, Illinois, Lincoln makes the first of many 
speeches in behalf of John C. Fremont, first Republican presiden- 
tial candidate. 


1858, June 16. The Republican State Convention names Lincoln as 
its 'first and only choice' for the U.S. Senate in opposition to 
Stephen A. Douglas. 

1858, August 12. At Beardstown, Illinois, Lincoln begins his cam- 
paign to elect Republican members of the legislature, who in turn 
will elect the Senator. In the next two and a half months he will 
speak almost daily and engage in seven joint debates with Douglas. 

1858, November 2. In this day's election the Democrats win control 
of the legislature, thus assuring the re-election of Douglas. 

1860, May 18. The Republican National Convention, meeting in 
Chicago, nominates Lincoln for the Presidency. 

1860, November 6. Though lacking a popular majority, Lincoln is 
elected with 180 electoral votes as against a total of 123 for his 
three opponents. 

1 860, December 20. South Carolina passes the Ordinance of Secession 
declaring herself out of the Union. 

1861, March 4. Lincoln is inaugurated the sixteenth President of the 
United States. By this time seven states have declared themselves 
in secession. 

1861, April 12. When Confederate forces open fire on Fort Sumter 

in Charleston harbour, the Civil War begins. 
1861, July 21. In the first Battle of Bull Run, Union forces under 

General Irvin McDowell are badly defeated by Confederates under 

Joseph E. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard. 

1861, November 1. Lincoln gives command of the U.S. Army to 
General George B. McClellan, who suceeds General Winfield 
Scott, retired. 

1862, February 6. General U. S. Grant takes Fort Henry on the 
Tennessee River, and gives the Union its first important success. 

1862, February 16. Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River sur- 
renders to Grant — a far greater victory than Fort Henry. 

1862, February 20. William Wallace Lincoln, aged 11 years, dies 
after a brief illness. 

1862, March 9. The Monitor, Federal, and the Merrimac, Con- 
federate, fight to a draw in Hampton Roads, near Norfolk, 
Virginia. The engagement, first between ironclads, inaugurates 
a new era in naval warfare. 

1862, April 6-7. Union troops under General U. S. Grant win a 
costly victory in the Battle of Shiloh, one of the bloodiest of the 

1862, May 31 — June 1. The Army of the Potomac, moving on 
Richmond under General George B. McClellan, wins the Battle 
of Fair Oaks (Seven Pines). 

1862, June 25-July 1. In the Seven Days Battles, Confederate 
General Robert E. Lee turns back McClellan and saves Richmond. 


1862, June 27. Lincoln places General John Pope in command of a 
new army, the Army of Virginia. 

1862, July 22. Lincoln submits a proclamation of emancipation to his 
Cabinet, but decides not to issue it until the Union has won a 
major victory. 

1862, August 30. The Union forces under Pope are disastrously 
defeated in the Second Battle of Bull Run. 

1862, September 17. McClellan, again in command of the Union 
army, stops Lee's invasion of Maryland in the Battle of Antietam. 

1862, September 22. Lincoln issues the first, or preliminary, Pro- 
clamation of Emancipation. 

1862, November 5. Lincoln relieves McClellan and names General 
Ambrose E. Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac. 

1863, December 13. In the Battle of Fredericksburg, Burnside is 
badly defeated by Lee. 

1863, January 1. By the final or definitive Proclamation of Emanci- 
pation the President proclaims freedom for all slaves in states or 

parts of states in rebellion. 
1863, January 25. General Joseph Hooker succeeds Burnside at the 

head of the Army of the Potomac. 
1863, May 1-4. Lee defeats Hooker in the Battle of Chancelorsville 

but loses his most effective subordinate, Thomas J. ('Stonewall') 

1863, May 18. General Grant places the Confederate stronghold of 

Vicksburg, Mississippi, under siege. 
1863, June 28. Lincoln replaces Hooker as commander of the Army 

of the Potomac with General George Gordon Meade. 
1 863, July 1-3 . Meade defeats Lee in a three-day battle at Gettysburg, 

Pennsylvania, that marks the turning point of the war. 
1863, July 4. Vicksburg surrenders to Grant, thus giving the Union 

complete control of the Mississippi River. 
1863, September 19-20. Union forces under General W. S. Rosecrans 

are defeated in a heavy battle at Chickamauga, Georgia. 
1863, October 16. General U. S. Grant is placed in command of all 

western armies of the Union. 
1863, November 19. At a memorial ceremony on the Pennsylvania 

battle-field, Lincoln delivers his immortal Gettysburg Address. 

1863, November 23-5. In a series of battles around Chattanooga, 
Tennessee, the Union army wins an important victory. 

1864, March 10. Grant, now a lieutenant-general, is assigned to the 
command of all Union armies. 

1 864, May 5. Grant, with Meade's Army of the Potomac, starts an 
advance on Richmond. For the next six weeks almost continuous 
fighting will result in unprecedented casualties. 


1 864, May 6. General William Tecumseh Sherman, commanding the 

armies of the West, starts his march through Georgia. 
1 864, June 19. Grant begins the siege of Petersburg, key to Richmond. 
1864, September 2. Atlanta falls to Sherman. 
1864, November 8. Lincoln is re-elected President, receiving 212 

electoral votes to 21 for George B. McClellan. 
1864, November 16. Sherman starts from Atlanta on 'the march to 

the sea.' 
1 864, December 1 5-1 6. In the Battle of Nashville, General George B. 

Thomas smashes the last important Confederate army in the west. 

1864, December 22. Sherman occupies Savannah, Georgia. 

1865, February 1. Sherman leaves Savannah to march north through 
the Carolinas, laying the country waste as he proceeds. 

1865, March 4. Lincoln is inaugurated the second time. 

1865, April 2. The Confederate army and government evacuate 

Richmond and attempt to escape to the west. 
1865, April 9. At Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, Lee surrenders 

the Army of Northern Virginia to Grant, practically ending the 

1865, April 14. John Wilkes Booth shoots Lincoln as he watches a 

play at Ford's Theater in Washington. 
1865, April 15. Lincoln dies at 7.22 a.m. 


Abolitionists, principles of, 28-9; 
Whigs join, 36 

Alabama, secession of, 164, 167 

Albert (Prince Albert), death, 

Alexander, Jediah F., letter to, 71 

Alexander, William, letter about, 

Allen, Robert, letter to, 3-4 

Alton, debate at, 116-19 

Anderson, Robert, at Fort Sum- 
ter, 168-70; in Kentucky, 182 

Anderson, William G., letter to, 1 1 

Andre, John, hanged, 57 

Annual Messages, to Congress, 
167-80, 183-8, 216-25, 260-2, 

Antietam, Battle of, 288 

Appomattox Courthouse, sur- 
render at, 289 

Arkansas, Union sentiment in, 
171; reconstruction in, 272 

Arnold, Benedict, treason of, 57 

Asbury, Henry, letter to, 120 

Ashmun, George, letter to, 137 

Atlanta, fall of, 289 

Autobiography, Lincoln's, 124-5, 

Baird, Mrs, letter concerning, 262 
Baker, Edward D., in altercation, 

10; agreement with, 42-4; in 

Congress, 145; in Civil War, 

Bale, Abram, letter to, 45 
Baltimore, committee from, 165; 

riot in, 165, 204 

Baltimore Sanitary Fair, speech at, 

Banks, Nathaniel P., in Louisiana, 

Beauregard, Pierre G. T., at Bull 

Run, 287 
Bell, John, candidacy, 146 
'Billy the Barber,' letter about, 49 
Bishop, William W., in Mexican 

War, 36 
Bixby, Mrs Lydia, letter to, 271 
Black Hawk War, Lincoln in, 40, 

125, 142, 285 
Blair, Francis P., Jr, attempts 

emancipation, 115 
Blair, Francis P., Sr, letter to, 247 
Blunt, James G., letter to, 250 
Boal, Robert, letter to, 29-30 
Bohlen, Henry, in Civil War, 216 
Booth, John Wilkes, assassinates 

Lincoln, 289 
Border States, emancipation in, 

Breckinridge, John C, candida- 
ture, 146; defection of, 239 
Brooks, Noah, story for, 276 
Brooks, Preston S., on slavery, 

Brown, Benjamin Gratz, attempts 

emancipation, 115 
Brown, John, attacks Harper's 

Ferry, 129-31 
Browning, Orville H., letter to, 

Browning, Mrs Orville H., letter 

to, 7-9 
Buchanan, Franklin, defection of, 





Buchanan, James, elected Presi- 
dent, 66; endorses Dred Scott 
decision, 74; charged with con- 
spiracy, 76-8 

Buckner, Simon B., defection of, 

Bullitt, Cuthbert, letter to, 205-7 

Bull Run, Battle of, 287, 288 

Burnside, Ambrose E., given com- 
mand, 214, 288; thwarted, 233 

Butler, William, letter to, 10; 
accepts challenge, 23-4; pre- 
dicts 'coming event,' 27 

Butterfield, Justin, receives ap- 
pointment, 43^4- 

California, in 1864 election, 274 
Cameron, Simon, urges arming 

Negroes, 264 
Campbell, Quintin, letter to, 199 
Campbell, Thomas M., marriage, 

Canisius, Theodore, letter to, 120 
Capital, relation to labour, 121-3, 

Carney, Thomas, mentioned, 250 
Cartwright, Peter, spreads ru- 
mours, 33 
Cass, Lewis, ridiculed, 40-1 
Chancellorsville, Battle of, 288 
Charleston, debate at, 108-10 
Chase, Salmon P., amendment of, 
defeated, 99-100; Lincoln's re- 
gard for, 137 
Chicago, speeches at, 66-7, 80-7 
Chicago Press and Tribune, auto- 
biography for, 138^15 
Chronology of Lincoln's life, 

Churches, attitude towards, 229 
Cintas, Oscar B., mentioned, 259 
Civil War, American, importance, 
viii-ix; begins, 287; ends, 279- 
280, 283, 289 
Clay, Brutus, elected, 248 

Clay, Henry, attitude on slavery, 
60, 92, 100, 102; Lincoln sup- 
ports, 142 

Colonization, prospect of, 70 

Congress, U.S., Lincoln aspires to, 
26, 29-30; Lincoln in, 34-41, 
125, 143-4; annual messages to 
167-80, 183-8, 216-25, 260-2, 

Conkling, James C, letter to, 

Connecticut, in 1864 election, 274 

Constitution, U.S., and slavery, 
75-8, 105-8, 125-6; and per- 
petuity of Union, 155-62; war 
powers under, 173^, 236- 
243 ; compensated emancipation 
amendment urged, 218-25 

Constitutional Union Party, can- 
didates, 146 

Cooper Institute, speech at, 125- 

Corning, Erastus, letter to, 235-43 

Couch, Darius, after Gettysburg, 

Crawford, Andrew, teacher, 139 

Creswell, John A. J., letter to, 263 

Curtis, Benjamin R., and Dred 
Scott case, 67, 77 

Curtis, Samuel R., letter to, 228-9; 
relieved of command, 234 

Cuthbert, Mrs Mary Ann, men- 
tioned, 248 

Cutts, James M., Jr, letter to, 

Davis, Jefferson, no dealing with, 

Davis, Levi, mentioned, 43 
Debates, at Ottawa, 95-101; at 
Freeport, 101^; at Jonesboro, 
104-8; at Charleston, 108-10; 
at Galesburg, 110-13; at 
Quincy, 113-16; at Alton, 116- 



Declaration of Independence, 

cited, 60, 64; meaning of, 55, 

57-8, 92-5, 1 10-1 1 ; significance, 


Delaware, furnishes troops, 171; 

in 1864 election, 274 
Democracy, survival of, 171-2. 

178-9; defined, 259 

Democratic Party, supports 

Nebraska Bill, 63; on status of 

Negro, 69-70; position on 

slavery, 114-19; prospects of, 

146; members of, in Civil War, 


Dennison, William, letter to. 267 

District of Columbia, slavery in, 

102, 114 
Divine Will. See God, will of 
'Dixie' (song), 280 
'Doctrine of Necessity,' 33 
Donelson, Fort, captured, 287 
Dorsey, Azel W., teacher, 139 
Douglas, Stephen A., opposed by 
Lincoln, vi, 287; defeated for 
Congress, 1 1 ; speeches in reply 
to: at Peoria, 51-8; Springfield, 
67-70, 87-94; Chicago, 80-7; 
Ottawa, 95-101 ; Jonesboro, 
101-8; Galesburg, 110-13; Al- 
ton, 116-19; and Nebraska Bill, 
63-4, 68-9; attitude on slavery, 
71; charged with conspiracy, 
76-8 ; not acceptable to Repub- 
licans, 78-9; challenged to 
debate, 94-5; re-elected to 
Senate, 120; candidate for Presi- 
dency, 146; death, 181 
Dred Scott decision, speech on, 
67-70; Lincoln opposes, 91-2; 
effect of, 72-7, 100; nature of, 
105-6, 132-3 
Dubois, Jesse K., mentioned, 248 
Duelling, epidemic of, 23-5 
Dummer, Henry E., mentioned, 65 
Durant, Thomas J., complaints of, 

Durley, Madison, letter to, 27-9 
Durley, Williamson, letter to, 27-9 

Education, importance of, 1 ; 
Lincoln's, 124-5, 139-40 

Edwards, Cyrus, seeks Land 
Office, 42 

Edwards, Ninian W., mentioned, 4 

Election, 1856, 66-7; 1864, mean- 
ing of, 270, 273-4 

Elephants, in U.S., 191 

Ellsworth, Elmer E., death of, 166 

Ellsworth, Ephraim D., letter to, 

Ellsworth, Phoebe, letter to, 166-7 

Emancipation, Proclamation of, 
208-1 1, 226-8 ; defended, 252-3 ; 
effect of, 261-2; to stand, 276 

Emancipation, prospect of, 60-1 ; 
in Missouri, 115; Jefferson urges, 
131 ; Fremont proclaims, 181-3; 
compensated, recommended, 
193-4, 202-4, 216-25; in Mary- 
land, 263; effect of, 265; in 
Louisiana, 281-2 

Euclid, Lincoln studies, vii, 140 

Everett, Edward, candidate, 146; 
letter to, 260 

Ewing, Thomas, and Land Office 
appointment, 43. 

Fair Oaks, Battle of, 287 
Farewell Address, 149 
Fees, legal, Lincoln on, 25, 46, 65 
Fell, Jesse W., letter to, 124 
Ferguson, Ben, death imminent, 18 
Fillmore, Millard, candidature, 67 
Florida, secession of, 164, 167 
Florville, William, letter about, 49 
Floyd, George P., letter to, 65 
Forts. See under name, as Sum- 
ter, Fort 
Fox, Gustavus V., letter to, 166 
Fredericksburg, Battle of, 288 



Freeport, debate at, 101^4 
Freese, Jacob R., letter concern- 
ing, 258 
Fremont, John C, candidature, 67, 
286; proclaims emancipation, 
181-3, 264; letter to, 198 
Friends, Society of, sympathy for, 

Friendship, Lincoln on, 43 
Fugitive Slave Law, Lincoln en- 
dorses, 101-2, 155 

Gaines, John P., in Mexican War, 

Galesburg, debate at, 110-13 
Galloway, Samuel, letter to, 136-7 
Gamble, Hamilton R., in factional 

quarrels, 234 
Gentry, Allen, trip to New 

Orleans, 285 
Georgia, secession of, 164, 167 
Gettysburg Address, vi, 259, 288 
Gettysburg, Battle of, 245, 288; 
aftermath, 246-7 ; Everett's 
address, 260 
Gillespie, Joseph, letters to, 43-4, 

Gladstone, William E., compared 

with Lincoln, v 
Globe Tavern, 27 
God, will of, 208, 269, 278-9 
Government, objects of, 49-50 
Grant, Ulysses S., letter to, 246; 
upheld, 248; appointed lieu- 
tenant-general, 263, 288; tele- 
gram, to 267; praised, 280 
Great Britain, affinity with U.S., 
189-90; friendship with U.S., 
Greeley, Horace, letter to, 207-8 
Greene, William G., mentioned, 

Grigsby, Sarah Lincoln, death of, 

Gurney, Eliza P., letter to, 269 

Habeas corpus, writ suspended, 
173-4, 238-40 

Hackett, James H., letters to, 249, 

Haiti, slave insurrection, 130 

Halleck, Henry W., defended, 
243-4; and Winchester defeat, 
245; letter to, 254-5 

Hanks, John, New Orleans trip, 

Hanks, Nancy (Mrs Thomas Lin- 
coln), 124, 138-9, 285 

Hardin, John J., nominated for 
Congress, 27; Lincoln opposes, 
29-30; in Congress, 145 

Harper's Ferry, attack on, 129-30, 

Harris, Thomas L., candidate for 
Congress, 51 

Harrison, William Henry, election 
of, 36; in War of 1812, 40 

Harvard University, Robert Lin- 
coln in, 146, 147 

Haskell, William T.. in Mexican 
War, 36 

Hatch, Ozias M., mentioned, 248 

Hazel, Caleb, teacher, 139 

Helper, Hinton Rowan, book by, 

Henderson, William H., letter to, 

Henning, Fanny, characterized, 
14; Speed's fiancee, 15-16; ill- 
ness, 1 7 ; marriage, 1 8 . See also 
Speed, Mrs Joshua F. 

Henry, Anson G., mentioned, 10; 
recommended, 11-12; letter to, 

Henry, Fort, captured, 287 

Herndon, William (Uncle Billy), 
death, 17 

Herndon William H., letters to, 
34-5, 39; law partner, 286 

Hickox, Addison, suit involving, 

History, no escape from, 225 



Hodgen's Mill (Hodgenville), 

birth-place, 285 
Hodges, Albert G., letter to, 263-5 
Hood, John B., defeated, 277 
Hooker, Joseph, given command, 

232, 288; letters to, 232-3, 243- 

244; telegrams to, 234-5 
Hull William, in War of 1812, 40 
Hunter, David, letter to, 188-9; 

attempts emancipation, 203, 264 
Hypochondria, Lincoln's, 17 

Illinois, Lincoln moves to, 125, 

140-1, 285; in 1864 election, 274 
Illinois Legislature, Lincoln runs 

for, 1-2, 3; Lincoln in, 125, 

142-3, 285 
Impending Crisis of the South, 

The (book), 131 
Inaugural Address, first, 154-62; 

second, 277-9 
Independence, Declaration of. 

See Declaration of Indepen- 
Independence Hall, speech at, 

Indiana, Lincoln in, 124-5, 139- 

140, 285; in 1864 election, 274 
Indianapolis, speech at, 1 50—1 
Industry, virtues of, 41-2, 48; rare 

quality, 183 
Infidelity, denied, 33 
Iowa, in 1864 election, 274 
Irwin, James S., letter to, 25 

Jackson, Thomas J. ('Stonewall'), 
death, 288 

Jefferson, Fort, held by Union, 

Jefferson, Thomas, deplores 
slavery, 110-11; advocates 
emancipation, 131 

Johnson, Herschel V., candida- 
ture, 146 

Johnson, Reverdy, letter to, 204-5 
Johnson, Richard M., mentioned, 

Johnston, Andrew, letter to, 30 
Johnston, John D., letters to, 41-2, 

47-8; New Orleans trip, 141 
Johnston, Joseph E., defection of, 

239; at Bull Run, 287 
Johnston, Sarah Bush (Mrs 

Thomas Lincoln), 139, 285 
Jonesboro, debate at, 104-8 
Judd, Norman B., mentioned, 94 

Kansas, slavery in, 51-8; disorder 
in, 62-4; admission of, 104-5; 
in 1864 election, 274 

Kansas - Nebraska Bill. See 
Nebraska Bill 

Kearney, Philip, in Civil War, 216 

Kellogg, William, letter concern- 
ing, 197 

Kellogg, William, Jr, letter con- 
cerning, 197 

Kentucky, Union troops in, 180— 
181; Union cause endangered, 
182-3; sides with Union, 184; 
reconstruction in, 272; in 1864 
election, 274 

Kinzie, Robert, mentioned, 10 

Knob Creek, Lincoln's home, 285 

Know-Nothing Party, condemned, 

Knox, William, ' Mortality ' 
(poem), 30 

Labour, relation to capital, 121-3, 

Land Office, General, Lincoln 

seeks, 42-4 
Lane, Joseph, candidature, 146 
Latham, George C, letter to, 147 
Law, lecture on, 45-7; study of, 

65; Lincoln studies, 143 
Lebanon (river steamer), 13 



Lecompton Constitution, opposi- 
tion to, 74 

Lee, Robert E., army of, real 
objective, 234-5, 255; defection 
of, 239; escape deplored, 247; 
defends Richmond, 287; sur- 
renders, 279-80, 289 

Legislature, Illinois. See Illinois 

Liberty, defined, 266-7 

Lincoln, Abraham (grandfather), 
124, 138 

Lincoln, Abraham, biography, 
v-vi ; character, vii-viii ; chrono- 
logy, 285-9; literary standing, 
vi-vii; significance, viii-ix 

Lincoln, Mrs Abraham, letters to, 
37-9, 248; illness, 47 

Lincoln, Edward Baker, birth, 34, 
286; mentioned, 37, 38 

Lincoln, Robert Todd, birth, 27, 
286; described, 34; at Harvard, 
146, 147; mentioned, 38, 39 

Lincoln, Sarah (sister), 139 

Lincoln, Thomas (father), life of, 
124-5, 139-40; on deathbed 

Lincoln, Mrs Thomas, support of, 

Lincoln, Thomas (Tad), birth of, 
286; goat lost, 248 

Lincoln, William Wallace, birth of, 
286; illness, 146; death, 287 

Lincoln family, 138 

Linder, Usher F., letter to, 35-6 

Logan, Stephen T., law partner, 
25, 286 

Louisiana, secession of, 164, 167; 
conditions in, 204; reconstruc- 
tion in, 205-6, 272, 281-2 

Louisville Journal, course of, 148 

Lyon, Nathaniel, in Civil War, 216 

McClellan, George B., given com- 
mand, 185, 287; letters to, 192, 

194-7, 211-13; memorandum 
to, 192; telegrams to, 199-201, 
214; relieved of command, 214, 
288; defeated for Presidency, 

McClernand, John A., letters to, 
229-30, 248 

McCullough, Fanny, letter to, 226 

McCullough, William, death of, 

McDowell, Irwin, at Bull Run, 287 

McLean, John, and Dred Scott 
case, 67, 77 

McPheeters, Samuel B., loyalty of, 

Magoffin, Beriah, letter to, 180-1 

Magruder, John B., defection of, 

Maine, in 1864 election, 274 

Manchester, working men of, 
letter to, 231-2 

Mansfield, Joseph K., in Civil 
War, 216 

Marriage, nature of, 14-23; Lin- 
coln's, 26 

Marshall, Samuel D., letter to, 

Maryland, sides with Union, 184; 
emancipation in, 263, 272; in 
1864 election, 274 

Massachusetts, naturalization law, 
120; in 1864 election, 274 

Matteson, Joel A., defeated for 
Senate, 59 

Meade, George G., letter to, 
246-7; advice for, 254-5; given 
command, 288 

Melancholia, Lincoln's, 11, 12, 17 

Menzies, John W., defeated, 248 

Merrimac (ironclad), fights Moni- 
tor, 287 

Merryman, Elias H., accepts chal- 
lenge, 24 

Mexican War, Lincoln opposes, 
35-6, 96, 144-5 

Michigan, in 1864 election, 274 



Militia, called out, 164-5 
Milroy, Robert H., letter to, 244-5 
Minnesota, in 1 864 election, 274 
Mississippi, secession of, 164, 167 
Mississippi River, in Union stra- 
tegy, 214-15; in Union hands, 
Missouri, emancipation in, 115; 
sides with Union, 184; troubles 
in, 228-9, 234; reconstruction 
in, 272; in 1864 election, 274 
Missouri Compromise, repeal of, 
51; repeal, effect of, 90-1; 
repeal, effect on Lincoln, 125, 
145; restoration urged, 55-7, 63 
Monitor (floating battery), fights 

Merrimac, 287 
Morrison, J. L. D., seeks Land 

Office, 42 
'Mortality,' favourite poem, 30 
1 Mud-Sill ' theory of labour, 123 
'My Childhood Home I See 
Again' (poem), 30-2 

Nashville, Battle of, 277, 289 
National Union Convention, 

nominates Lincoln, 267 
Naturalization, Lincoln on, 120 
Nebraska, slavery in, 51-8 
Nebraska Bill, effect on Lincoln, 
v-vi; passed, 286; opposition 
to, 50-1; speech against, 51-8; 
condemned, 62 ; effect on Doug- 
las, 68-9; general effect, 73-7, 
82-3, 90-1 ; Lincoln condemns, 
Negro, in slavery, 13; status of, 
53-4, 69-70, 92-4, 95, 108-10, 
222-4, 252-3; in Union army, 
253-4, 261 
Nelson, Samuel, and Dred 

Scott case, 77 
Nevada, in 1864 election, 274 
New Hampshire, in 1864 election, 

New Jersey, speech to Senate, 

151-2; in 1864 election, 274 
New Orleans, trips to, 140-1, 285; 

conditions in, 204 
New Salem, Lincoln at, 65, 125, 

141-3, 285 
New York, in 1864 election, 274 
Norfolk, navy yard seized, 172 
North Carolina, Union sentiment 

in, 171, 185 
Northern Virginia, Army of, real 

objective, 234-5, 255 
North-west Territory, slavery in, 

prohibited, 127-8 

Offutt, Denton, hires Lincoln, 

Ohio, 166th Regiment, address to, 

268; in 1864 election, 274 
Ordinance of Secession, passed, 

149, 287 
Oregon, election in, 146-7; in 1864 

election, 274 
Ottawa, debate at, 95-101 
Owens, Mary S., letters to, 4-6; 

courtship of, 7-9 

Palmer, John M., letter to, 50-1 
Parker, John, mentioned, 37 
Peace, conditions of, 275-6 
Peninsular campaign, 195-6 
Pennsylvania, in 1864 election, 

Peoria, speech at, 51-8 
Petersburg, evacuated, 280, 283 
Pettit, John, denounces Declara- 
tion of Independence, 57 
Phelps, John S., defended, 204-5 
Philadelphia, speech at, 152-3 
Phillips Exeter Academy, men- 
tioned, 147 
Phipps, Mrs L. H., letter to, 233 
Pickens, Fort, to be held, 163, 167; 
reinforcement of, 169-70 



Pierce, Franklin, quoted, 66; 
charged with conspiracy, 76-8 

Polk, James K., Lincoln con- 
demns, 35 

Pope, John, advice of, 200; given 
command, 288 

Popular Sovereignty, Lincoln 
opposes, 98-9, 148-9; and 
slavery, 106-8 

Population, U.S., in 1864, 274; 
growth of, 187-8 

Potomac, Army of, plan for, 192 

Prentice, George D., letter to, 

Presidency, Lincoln aspires to, 
136-7; nomination (I860) 
accepted, 137, 287; nomination 
(1864) accepted, 267 

Preston, William B., defection of, 

Proclamation of Emancipation. 
See Emancipation, Proclama- 
tion of 

Public opinion, strength of, 66 

Quincy, debate at, 113-16 

Ramsay, George D., letter to, 183 
Reavis, Isham, letter to, 65 
Rebellion, proclamation against, 

Reconstruction, in Louisiana, 

205-6; plans for, 280-2 
Religion, Lincoln's conception of, 

33, 276 
Reno, Jesse L., in Civil War, 216 
Republican Party, on status of 
Negro, 69-70; nominates Lin- 
coln for Senate, 71 ; position on 
slavery, 71, 113-14, 116-19, 
126-30, 134-6, 154-5; not sec- 
tional, 111-12; nominates Lin- 
coln for Presidency, 137, 287; 

prospects of (1860), 146; mem- 
bers of, in Civil War, 215-16 
Revolution, American, spirit of, 

60, 152-3 
Rhode Island, in 1864 election, 274 
Richardson, Israel B., in Civil 

War, 216 
Richardson, William A., defeated 

for Congress, 69 
Richmond, campaign against, 
194-6, 199, 212-13, 267, 288; 
evacuated, 280, 283; fall of, 289 
Riney, Zachariah, teacher, 139 
Rives, George W., letter to, 44-5 
Robertson, George, letter to, 60-1 
Rosecrans, W. S., defeated, 288 

Sangamo Journal, letters to, 1-3 
Sanitary Fair, address at, 265-6 
Savannah, capture of, 277, 289 
Schenck, Robert C, and Win- 
chester defeat, 245 
Schofield, John W., appointed to 

command, 234 
Schurz, Carl, letter to, 215-16 
Scott, Winfield, in Mexican War, 
36; order to, 163; advice on 
Sumter, 169; retirement, 185, 
Scripps, John L., letter to, 80; 

autobiography for, 138^5 
Secession, argument against, 158- 
162, 174-80, 237-8; accom- 
plished, 167-8; nature of, 282. 
See also Ordinance of Secession 
Senate, U.S., Lincoln fails of 
election, 58-9; Lincoln nomi- 
nated for, 71 
Seven Days Battles, 199-201, 287 
Seward, William H., letter to, 163 
Shakespeare, William, plays of, 

Sherman, William Tecumseh, 
Georgia campaign, 272, 289; 
letter to, 277 



Shields, James, challenges to duels, 
23-5, 286; defeated for Senate, 

Shiloh, Battle of, 287 

Siam, King of, letter to, 190-1 

Sixth Massachusetts, attack on, 1 65 

Slave insurrection, 129-30 

Slave trade, 102-3 

Slavery, Negroes in, 13; extension 
of, combated, 28-9, 61-4; 
extension of, forecast, 72-9, 
81-5, 89-92, 96-9; essence of, 
50; evil of, 51-3, 112-13, 116-19, 
135-6, 149; problem of, 60-1; 
right to exclude from territories, 
105-8; place of, in U.S. history, 
93-4, 125-6; in District of 
Columbia, 102; resolutions on, 
143; no compromise with, 148- 
149; compensated emancipation 
recommended, 193-4, 202-4, 
216-25; emancipation pro- 
claimed, 208-11, 226-8; amend- 
ment abolishing, 272-3; cause 
of war, 278-9 

Smith, Green Clay, elected, 248 

Smith, William F., after Gettys- 
burg, 247 

South, people of, characterized, 

South Carolina, secession of, 149, 
164, 167; coercion of, dis- 
avowed, 150-1 ; attacks Sumter, 

Southampton, slave insurrection, 

Spears, George, letter to, 2-3 

Speed, Joshua F., trip with, 12-13 ; 
letters to, on marriage, 14-23; 
letter to, on duelling, 23-5; 
letters to, on family matters, 
26-7, 33-4; letter to, on slavery, 

Speed, Mrs Joshua F., mentioned, 
19, 20, 23, 25. See also Hen- 
ning, Fanny 

Speed, Mary, letter to, 12-14 
Spencer County, poem about, 30-2 
Springfield, life in, 4-5; speeches 

at, 87-94, 119-20, 149; made 

state capital, 285 
Stanton, Edwin M., letters to, 197, 

258, 262 
State sovereignty, upheld, 83-4, 89 

-91, 98-9; nature of, 151, 175-7 
Stephens, Alexander H., letter to, 

Stevens, Isaac I., in Civil War, 216 
Stone, Dan, signs resolutions, 143 
Strong, William, mentioned, 38 
Strong, Mrs William, mentioned, 

Stuart, Betty, mentioned, 11 
Stuart, John T., letters to, 10-12; 

law partner, 142-3, 286 
Stuart, Mrs John T., mentioned, 

Sturtevant, Julian M., letter to, 

Sumter, Fort, to be held, 163; 

relief attempted, 166; attack on, 

165, 167-70, 287 
Supreme Court, U.S., and Dred 

Scott case, 67-9, 73-8, 91-2, 

Sweeney, James, teacher, 139 

Taney, Roger B., and Dred Scott 
decision, 67; charged with con- 
spiracy, 76-8 

Taylor, Fort, held by Union, 167 

Taylor, Zachary, in Mexican War, 
36; and Land Office appoint- 
ment, 43; Lincoln supports, 145 

Tennessee, Union sentiment in, 
171, 177, 185; reconstruction 
in, 272 

Texas, annexation of, 28-9; seces- 
sion of, 164, 171 

Thanksgiving, proclamation of, 



Thomas, George H., defeats 

Hood, 277, 289 
Thomas, Lorenzo, defended, 216 
Thomas, Richard S., letter to, 26 
Todd, Aim, marriage, 27 
Todd, Mary, engagement with, 
broken, 11, 21 ; marries Lincoln, 
26-7, 143, 286. See also Lin- 
coln, Mrs Abraham 
Todd, Robert S., mentioned, 143 
Treat Samuel, letter to, 214-15 
Trenton, speech at, 151-2 
Trumbull, Lyman, elected Sena- 
tor, 59; letter to, 148-9 
Tunstall, Warrick, mentioned, 37 

Union, dissolution threatened, 
132-4; perpetuity of, 151, 152, 
156-8, 174-80; preservation of, 
Lincoln's aim, 207-8; main- 
tenance of, promised, 251-2; 
maintenance of, issue, 264, 
278-9; restoration of, aim of 
war, 230 

Vallandigham, Clement L., case 

of, 240-3 
Vermont, in 1864 election, 274 
Vicksburg, victory at, 246, 288 
Victoria, Queen of England, letter 

of condolence, 189-90; respect 

for, 231 
Virginia, secedes, 171; Union 

sentiment in, 177 

Warren, William B., letter to, 42-3 

Washington, George, attitude on 
slavery, 127—8 

Washington (D.C.), defence of, 
195, 200 

Washington, Life of, by Mason 
Weems, 152 

Weed, Thurlow, letter to, 279 

Weems, Mason, Life of Wash- 
ington, 152 

Welles, Charles R., letter to, 49 

West Virginia, in 1864 election, 

Whig Party, opposes Mexican 
War, 35-6; status of, 64 

White, Hugh L., mentioned, 3 

Whiteside, John D., sends chal- 
lenge, 24 

Wickliffe, Charles A., defeated, 

Williams, Archibald, mentioned, 

Wilmot Proviso, Lincoln favoured, 

Winchester, defeat at, 244-5 

Wisconsin, in 1864 election, 274 

Wisconsin State Agricultural 
Society, speech before, 121-3 

Woman suffrage, Lincoln favours, 

Wright, John, mentioned, 10 

Yates, Richard, Lincoln supports, 
145; mentioned, 248 

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and that goal will surely be achieved before the jubilee of the 
Library in 1956. 

A rough and ready pointer to the representative character of 
the Library is the number of volumes in each of the broad 
classifications into which the Library is divided — Biography has 
some 80 volumes; the Greek and Latin classics, about 40; 
Essays and Belles-lettres, 100; Fiction, 300; History, 80; Poetry 
and Drama, 100; Romance, 30; Science, 25; Religion and Philo- 
sophy, 60; Travel and Topography, 45; For Young People, 65. 
(The reference section is now being published separately as 
Everyman's Reference Library.) Most of but not all these 
volumes are in print now; some absent ones are works which 
changing taste has ruled out; but the classified sections of the 
Library are maintained in the original proportions, and to-day 
there are available in the Library the works of some five hundred 
authors of all times and all lands, the honoured names that 
stand for great literature. Moreover, many 'temporarily out 
of print' volumes are now being reinstated. 

In March 1953 a fresh development of the Library began; 
new volumes and all new issues of established volumes in 
Everyman's Library are now in the larger size of crown octavo 
(except the volumes in the Young People's Section). The 
larger volumes have new title-pages, bindings, and wrappers, 
and the text pages have generous margins. Ninety volumes 
in this improved format will have been issued within one year 
of its inauguration. 

Editorially the Library is under constant survey; all volumes 
are re-examined and brought up to date, with new intro- 
ductions, annotations, and additional matter, wherever de- 
sirable; often a completely new translation or newly edited 
text is substituted when transferring an old volume to the new 
format, such as the new editions of Pepys's Diary, Caesar's 
War Commentaries , and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 

The new larger volumes are in keeping with the reader's own 
collection in his home, for which the Library is planned, and 
they are also in the suitable size for the shelves of all public, 
institutional, university, and school libraries. Many important 
works in Everyman's Library are unobtainable in any other 
edition, and they are as essential to the comprehensiveness of 
the Library as are the masterpieces of fiction, some of which 
are in one Everyman volume of anything up to 800 or 900 pages. 
The new Everyman's Library in crown octavo is published at 
two prices (except in the U.S.A.), according to the length and 
nature of the work; volumes in red binding and wrapper are at 
one price and those in blue at a slightly higher price. 

This development entails no break in the continuity of the 
Library; there are at this date nearly 600 volumes in the original 
format, and they will be obtainable in the old size and at the old 
price until they are reissued in the new. Four times a year the 
Publishers issue a prospectus of the volumes to be issued in the 
larger format during the next three months: this will be sent 
free to all applicants. A descriptive catalogue of all volumes 
is also freely available, the annotations giving the year of birth 
and death of the author, the date of first publication of the 
work, and a brief description of, or details of the contents of, 
the last revised Everyman's Library edition. 

J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. 








j # f V 


Continued from front flap] 

his orations, nothing tawdry, nothing 
otiose. For the most part, he addresses 
the reason of his hearers, and credits 
them with desiring to have none but 
solid arguments laid before them. 
When he does appeal to emotion, he 
does it quietly, perhaps even solemnly. 
The note struck is always a high note. 
The impressiveness of the appeal comes 
not from fervid vehemence of language, 
but from the sincerity of his own con- 
victions. Sometimes one can see that 
through its whole course the argument 
is suffused by the speaker's feeling, 
and when the time comes for the feeling 
to be directly expressed, it glows not 
with fitful flashes, but with the steady 
heat of an intense and strenuous soul.' 

Some Books by and about 
Americans in Everyman's Library 

Cecil Chesterton: A History of the U.S.A. 

No. 965 

W. H. prescott: History of the Conquest of 

Mexico Nos. 397-8 

j. fenimore cooper: The Last of the 

Mohicans No. 79 

The Prairie No. 172 

MARK twain: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry 

Finn No. 976 

Nathaniel hawthorne: The House of the 

Seven Gables No. 176 

Twice-told Tales No. 531 

The Scarlet Letter No. 122 

HENRY JAMES: The Turn of the Screw and 

The Aspern Papers No. 912 

WALT whitman : Leaves of Grass No. 573 

benjamin franklin: Autobiography 

No. 316 
American short stories. With Intro- 
duction by John Cournos. Bret Harte, 
Nathaniel Hawthorne, O. Henry, Henry 
James, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mark Twain, 
etc. No. 840 

Printed in Great Britain at The Aldine Press, 
Letchworth, Herts (Fj 518) 

' &mM)uuujuuui^^ 


Fiction • Biography • Poetry • Drama • Science • Travel 

Essays • Belles-Lettres • Translations from the Classics 

Books for Young People • Books of Reference • Oratory 

Romance • History • Religion • Philosophy 

Books of All Times Books of All Lands 

Strong Binding Clear Print 

The Greatest Value in Great Books 
Forty-three Million Volumes Sold 






Adam Smith 





Jane Austen 













George Eliot 



The Brontes 











Jules Verne 











Charles Reade 







Victor Hugo 








Dr Johnson 



A full list of the Library is obtainable from the Publishers 


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